". . . 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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Time Considered As Cat

When you vacation in a cornucopia such as London, with the additional pleasure of seeing people you know, and meeting new people, time contracts like a cat snugged into itself against the cold and, alternately, spilled out ever expansively, like a cat lounging away a hot summer day.

Yesterday, condensed:

Fleet Street, Drury Lane, Covent Garden and for me, back to the British Museum*, as el V had to protect his sinuses and throat from the wind that dries them out.  He had two hours plus to sing non-stop again last night.  He decided to rest in the Grange, while I caught The Horse From Arabia to Royal Ascot exhibit.  It was as packed as you might expect, as it was a splendid Saturday afternoon, it's free attendence, and today (Sunday) is its last day. (My personal opinion is this exhibit doesn't achieve even mediocrity, with the tiny exceptional bit of Arabic texts, including the Quaran's sections on the virtues of the horse, and caring for the horse, horsemanship and so on.)Then it was the Underground (encountering lads furious or exultant over what had happened with the Arsenal shortly before) and Overground three stations away out to Dalston, to the second venue the Serpentine Gallery had selected for the Las Vidas Perfectas performances, as well as tonight's presentation and performance by Bob Ashley, the composer of Las Vidas Perfectas and many other works. Dalston, a district of north-east London, located in the borough of Hackney, is not a tourist destination. There were over three hours of set-up and sound check to get through -- I was reminded all over again why I always do everything I can to avoid being present at this when possible -- followed by two hours plus of performance, intermission, performance, then the after parts, followed by breaking down.  Late in the night we rode back to the Grange on a double decker.  This provided a terrific view of the continuous Saturday night in London youth queued and gathered all along the way until the Holborn stop, right outside the Grange.  In the Grange's bar we had a drink with the wife and the composer of Las Vidas Perfectas, before heading to bed.

Each day contracts and stretches like this. With so many different and not necessarily related occurrences throughout the the waking hours it feels as  though I am currently living perfect lives. The only imperfection is that there's not enough time to live all the lives I want to live.

There isn't time for Liverpool, for instance.  It will have to be Bristol instead, tomorrow.  And then we go home.

* All the members of the Company have dashed in-and-out of the British Museum every day, taking in a bit of this and that, when possible.  It's so convenient to our location.  And like so many of the museum in London, the admission is free.  In NYC, the museums that attract the largest number of visitors will charge these days around forty dollars admission.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

An Egyptologist Friend In Mind

We moved to Bloomsbury (the Grange Holborn Hotel) the day before yesterday.
Ancient Egypt is a strong motif for Bloomsbury: even the motif of our hotel is supposed to be in the flavor of ancient Egypt. The British Museum provides the signature, with so much area given over to the matter, including an entire Museum Court shop. There is the Egyptian Archeology Museum, among many other institutions here that if not wholly concerned with ancient Egypt, include it among the subjects of their mission.

In the meantime, with us doing our personal explorations during the day, and then moving directly to join the Company, the reason we're here at all, and after the performance socializing over dinner with London friends, there's not been time to catch up on my notes*.

Today our personal explorations are going to concentrate on major tourism areas, Charing Cross and the Strand, wherein is located, among other famously, constantly referred sites in English literature and history, Covent Gardens. My call.

I really like London**.
* Not that this matters, except to me -- but fortunately I'm really good at writing in that moleskine (will need a new one by the time we get home again, to be ready for New Orleans).

** This is the first vacation I've been on in years, so that might be why I like London so much -- except -- el V's also likes London very much, and he is not on vacation, but working constantly, except when taking a few hours to play with me.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Angola 2 -- El V Speaks

El V-- not Foxessa --here:

[ ".... excitement abounds . . . the product of a *lot* of work has come to fruition . . .


Of the four shows I am producing about Angola this fall (the last two will air in November), this is the densest. Besides the music, it has twelve different speaking voices, and it's entirely about African electronic music. In particular, much of it is at 140 BPM.

If you cut & paste into your address bar -- for some reason the platforms el V has to work with on this side won't hyperlink this one -- you can hear it right now at:

And feel free to leave a comment.

It will be available on the HIP DEEP website at In New York, i
t will air on WNYE 91.5 FM in New York Saturday at 11 p.m. and Monday at noon.

Meanwhile, HIP DEEP ANGOLA 1 is still up and available for listening at

Press release follows:

HIP DEEP ANGOLA 2: 21st CENTURY URBAN ANGOLA: KIZOMBA, KUDURO, AFRO-HOUSE AND BEYOND (distribution: September 27) takes us to the street in Angola’s dense, smoggy, oil-booming capital city of Luanda. Peace came to Angola in 2002 after forty-two years of war, and now everything is different.

The postwar generation of the last ten years communicates via text-messaging and electronic music. Producer Ned Sublette checks out kuduro (literally, hard-ass) – the high-energy electronic dance music that dominates Luanda today, as well as the the zouk-like couple dance of kizomba, a phenomenon that began in the 80s and still packs in dancers to Luanda clubs, and, farther underground, the computer-driven style called Afro-House.

We’ll talk to musicologist Stefanie Alisch, who’s been studying the world of kuduro in Luanda this year; historian Marissa Moorman about kizomba and the early days of kuduro; transgendered whirlwind dancer and rap diva Titica, the first out-gay African music star; 21-year-old superstar Cabo Snoop, whose “Windeck” became a hit via Bluetooth; Coréon Dú, executive producer of the weekly kuduro TV program Sempre a Subir; the charismatic, comic hosts of that program, the duo of Os Namayer, better known as Príncipe Ouro Negro e Presidente Gasolina (Prince Black Gold and President Gasoline); DJ Satelite, a leading beatmaker and producer on the Afro-House scene; Angolan music historian and critic Jomo Fortunato; and Jó Kindanje, the Angolan writer who published the first book on kuduro. " ]

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Baker Street

Took these photos to show I was there, not as documentation of anything else.

I didn't take a photo of 221B Baker Street -- where the Sherlock Holmes Museum is supposedly located -- because it didn't exist when Doyle wrote the Holmes's stories.  Baker Street hadn't been extended up that far yet.  These locations are located on the pre-extension stretch of Baker Street.

What we were doing on Baker Street: changed dollars to pounds in a Baker Street post office.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Wrong Turns Are The Right Turns - London 3

Because it was brilliant autumn sunshine and supposed to be 75 today we left early in the morning for Regent's Park again so Foxessa could visit Queen Mary's Gardens. Quickly ot turned overcast, the wind was persistently ungentle. Rain began as we entered the Inner Circle within which lies Queen Mary's Gardens. We took refuge in the Cafe, which caters to a clientele that ranges from tourists such as we, regulars, local schools' tennis and soccer teams tournaments and practices, local tennis players, to figures who seem to believe they are participants in the lifestyles presented by the Top Music Videos channel which plays relentlessly on the television. The Cafe provides various sports amenities and equipment for sale,  and changing rooms -- locker rooms for we USians -- presumably for a membership fee.

While sharing a scone and drinking hot chocolate a vid showed up that was interesting in all kinds of ways: "Turn Me On" (2011). OK.  Queen Mary's roses, Jubilee Gates, i.e. Queen Elizabeth's big celebration this summer.  And ... this.  Scary, but elegantly imaginative. Makes the vids of  Ms. Crude Palmer, look the pathetically talentless attempts they are.

The sun returned. The Royal Academy of Music at York Gate, yes! and the exquisite attached three-floor museum, with research rooms and rehearsal halls.

Passed up the opportunity to stand in queue to see Bruce Willis and Marvel superheroes be wax at Madame Toussaint's.

However, because I wanted, we did move across to Baker Street.  Somehow it was appropriate that we changed my remaining $150 into pounds on Baker Street.

Getting confused by then we made the wrong turn and encountered a confab going on in front of the Angolan Embassy.  El V greets them in Portuguese, and  progressed from there.  He was thrilled.  Among other things, he learned today at the UN General Assembly UNESCO was meeting to finally create the church in M'banza Kongo an International Heritage Site. This provides him a hook for the article he needs to write about the M'banza Kongo part of the Angolan trip. The head fellow standing there is from M'banza Kongo, so this is more than excellent.

We've gotten turned around. Both of us are hurting like, well, we are.  I'm limping.  We stop at the Duke of York pub, where yes, from a cask pull, the Czech beer from yesterday is also available.  This time I got the name, Staropramen, which They Say Who Know is a middling beer according to Czech standards. Those standards are much higher than those in the U.S.  I hope the Czechs know how much more fortunate in their beer they are than we with those over-hopped, over perfumed, over ingrediented microbrews overhyped in every locality in the country now.  I'll take a Staropramen over a Brooklyn hop extremist micro brew any and every day.

We've had the greatest day! we blither at each other! We speculate which Duke of York the pub is named for -- el V pulling for Charles II's brother, who became King James II (1633–1685), the biggest royal slave trader ever! me for the Prince Frederick, House of Hanover (1784 - 1827), because this area was developed by John Nash in Frederick's lifetime -- the Regency, Regent's Park, etc., you know?*

We pour over the catalog we bought in the Royal Music Society's Museum, which dissects section-by-section John Perry's "A London Street Scene," -- and I complain I wrote all this down in my notebook, and if I'd known about the catalog before-hand, I could have saved myself all that work, yet I'm glad I did it, because I feel such a connection to its explosive energy, that is of that era, because I spent so much time looking at it blitherblitherblither. El V blithers about the pianos and their history as instruments and how splendid the Museum's collection is, and how Ellio, the piano player in Las Vidas Perfectas is going to envy him seeing these pianos -- and a virginal! -- and music and the musical theater U.S. and London connections in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the slave trade and Jim Crow in theatrical musical history and the history African Americans. We marvel how welcoming, helpful, knowledgable everyone at the museum was.  I rapture over the curators of the Dickens and London Music exhibit: so small, so dense, so informative, so coherent even in the manner of how Dickens would resolve a plot, so informative -- and the more you know about all these matters the more the exhibit speaks to you, and you learn things you didn't know! AND the museum has all these conveniently placed chairs  -- with backs and pillows -- on which to sit while taking notes. AND they never tell you not take pictures, they ask if they can make it easier for you.

We get lost again, but we read the helpful street maps and get back on track to home base.

The same thing happens in the second pub we stopped into for more than recuperation and rejuvenation. By now we've earned our dinner, and base camp is only about five more blocks away. Thank goodness. This time it was discussion around reviewing our digital photos that provoked the join-in. As well as el V speaking Portuguese with the new Brasilera bartender, who had been there for only a month.

Even though I can hardly move and the pain is off the charts, this was a Great Day. I can't help it. I really love being in London.

El V's got his first London rehearsal tomorrow.

* I'm right about which Duke of York the pub's named for. I didn't think to ask them because they must get asked tourist questions all the time -- imagine what it must have been like for them, with the Jubilee and the Olympics both in the same summer -- even though this isn't exactly Paddington Station, it's walking distance to Lord's Cricket Stadium / Ground -- we passed it twice, and people were taking photos. Also, in NYC quite often you ask someone who lives / works close to an historical marker and they never heard of the figure or the event. (This is the same Duke of York for which New York state and New York City is named, so I've  been interested in him since the fourth grade when we learned about that.)

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Tomb of the Unknown Urinator - London, Kensington Gardens

The Tomb of the Unknown Urinator, Kensington Gardens

Cognitive dissonance: here, the UK Guardian is here, there, now the New York Times is there. This reverse of here and there perception when in Europe has always brain-knocked me. Brain knocking kicked in again in the afternoon with the addition of chronology as viewed from here vs there -- i.e. from my own life history over there that was connected to here.
We gallivanted all afternoon in the chilly wind, ending up in Kensington Gardens. Ye condition was making my left leg hurt pretty badly, and we had a bit of a walk yet to reach home base. El V picked a place called Taylor Walker Pub in the  Paddington Station area to rest and recoup. Though without that horrid sport TV, it had other signatures of a franchise operation, so I was skeptical.  Yes, Taylor Walker's got about 116 operations, mostly in and around London. It's Paddington Station site, however, is located in a building that clearly has been in that location since at least the mid-1800's. They have really good beer; el V's choice for us both (I was knackered by then, lots of pain, stupid) was a draft from their "World Beer"
menu, out of the Czech Republic -- the name of which did not register. They also have at least one real sweetheart of a waitperson, named Sam, who tipped el V to his choice, based on what he said I liked. It  turns out that once upon a time Taylor Walker was a major brewery in England, and for a long time.

While I'm attempting to assimilate this information, I'm still thinking of turned around here - there.  Taylor Walker's choice of music is all English, hits from the 60's 70's 80's and probably the 90's too -- you will recognize all the cuts, no matter what your age. Sting's ode to stalkertude, "Every Breath You Take," played during our initial appraisal of the menus. Then "Sympathy for the Devil," and so on. It messed with my mind to be hearing such English music in such an English place, where these songs were probably  played when they were brand new, and Usians like me (well, maybe not -- hippies!) were eating sandwiches and drinking beer were listening because -- you know -- Paddington Station -- and even when it wasn't a Taylor Walker, it was still probably a place selling food and drink because -- it's by Paddington Station -- and before there were recordings, radios, juke boxes, PA's, whatever, there was probably music, made by the patrons, and probably a piano was on the premises, because -- right there, by Paddington Station, with people coming and going at all hours every day and night, and people working all over the place, day and night.

As well, the style of the building --  The more you travel the more you see wherever you go, at least when comes to European and U.S. style of building, that there are local flourishes and so on, but much of period public architecture is similar all through Europe and North America, and down in the South Americas, you see the continuance of both the Arab - Spanish styles and particularly the Spanish Imperial baroque everywhere.

This was comforting in a way, as I have on occasion bemoaned how river walks and ocean side piers, parks like the High Line and Hudson River Park and Battery Park, and so on look so much alike wherever you go.  The styles above and down to NYC's Battery Park are found along the river in Lisbon, which was the first time I noticed this  You also see the style on San Antonio's River Walk. So I see that the building in which this Taylor Walker pub is located could almost be found in Habana Vieja -- that winder stair to a second floor -- but in Havana -- or New Orleans -- it would be built around a courtyard, and have a balcony overlooking the courtyard.  Still, the bar in all three places would have the pressed tin ceilings, at least in the main bar, have interior fan windows and arches, with various separator - privacy partial partitions.  The Taylor Walker pub has an old enameled porcelain tile fireplace -- that you won't see in Havana, but you might (though the tiles would be different) in New Orleans because a fire in winter is most welcome. So it's OK, the period style trend for public spaces being the same all over during periods has been going on a long time. Duh.  It's in residences that you see more local style differences maybe?  Thinking of that Terraces and Places and Crescents ubiquity here -- though not in NYC, this style of residence is in Italian cities from that era, and in Paris too, but they're called by different words.

Then over the speakers came the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'" with Stevie Winwood, lead vocal. My brain then collapsed into mush. Host had a great deal to do with introducing Stevie Winwood to the U.S. music scene. absolute mush.  Here there, Now then, it's all the same. Arrrrrrrrggh!

It's impossble, you know, not to be aware of history with every footstep you take in London.  Even what is totally contemporary in thought, action and material expression has history.  And I KNOW an enormous amount of this history  generally, though obviously not down to the granular levels.  We entered Kensington Gardens through the Marlborough Gate. I crowed to el V,  "I know who the Duke of Marlborough is -- he was the guy who married Susan Hampshire!"*  Queen Anne, whose residence Kensington Palace was, was very close to the Duke of Marlborough's wife, Sarah, from the time of their girlhood. When Anne assumed the throne in her own right she showered the Churchills with benefits and honors,  titles and money (though eventually she fell out with the strong-willed and very interfering busy Sarah -- Sarah's own daughter even fell out with her.) To be fair though, the Duke of Marlborough spent much of Queen Anne's reign abroad, fighting valiantly in the the War of the Spanish Succession.  He was so successful that Queen Anne made him her Captain-General.

Whew -- and that was just at the entrance into Kensington Gardens. You see what I mean?  We hadn't even stepped through yet. The church for which the part we're staying in until Thursday is named, St. Mary's Church (though not the same building), was where John Donne preached his FIRST sermon.  Sarah Siddons is buried in the cemetery. This means something to me, it really does, so much so I'm overwhelmed.

It also means a lot to me that all around where we are living is filled with women wearing headscarves.  I know who the might be, and how and why they got here, and are, some English citizens, some maybe on the road to becoming citizens, some maybe not, by their own choice even, all raising their families. They are as much a part of the history of this city now as Sarah Churchill. If they themselves did not, they surely have relatives who do live in other cities whose history is as deep, layered and complicated as London's.  So, there are those connections too, going east this time, not west as with me - that Here and that There, that Now and that Then.

The Serpentine Gallery, where Las Vidas Perfectas will be performed Friday at 6 PM is in the Kensington Gardens too. So we stopped by to say hi to the staff.  That was a big hit of contemporary air.

Though I wasn't interested in the Peter Pan statue, I did want to see Princess Diana's Memorial.  El V indulged me. The Fountain is very pretty.  And looked at from some perspectives, contours of the fountain look as though they are in the pattern of a heart.


* This is a joke.  The only time the Duke of Marlborough married Susan Hampshire was in the BBC series, The Churchills. Though if John Churchill had met Susan Hampshire instead of Sarah Jennings, he may well have married her instead -- there is no one more delightful than Susan Hampshire.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Guess Where We Are

Hint: it's pissing rain. And cold.

The classic London weather for which it is famed: cold, grey, raining.  (Yesterday though, it was brilliant: sunny, clear and bright, though still, yes, cold, because it is England and England is always cold, except when it has experienced these climate change spells of overheat in recent years.)

Nevertheless, it's a lovely view from where I've set up camp in Host's library*.  The end of the room has the tall three-windowed bay, so common in architecture of this era.  Here, on the second floor the bay windows provide an expansive view into the gardens and courtyards of the semi-detached villa mansions and multiple residency terraces.  Many varieties of trees (leaves beginning the turn -- branches here and there fountaining gold and red) and flowers, as well as birds. The host has a bird feeder outside one of the windows. Not bird watcher, only as bird enjoyer, I've only been able to identify pigeons, ubiquitous to urban air space, and a wax wing. This is where Regent's Park is, as well as Regent's Canal (thus Little Venice), so water birds abound, as well as garden variety birds. There are many bird watching clubs here, and many of them are specialized -- such as only water birds sighted in Regent's Park. Climate change is a boon to these clubs.

We're doing fairly well, as we should, considering how well we're situated.  Despite all our long and short range planning and preparation, despite going for a British Airways upgrade, despite the very nice and helpful people before, during and after the flight, the journey from home to St. Mary's Mansions was brutal. Traffic to JFK was backed up worse than I've ever seen it, which is saying something. The Brooklyn Bridge is undergoing repairs, which futher backs up things as it is an alternate route to the airport. This backup is thanks to the General Assembly of the UN, has been in place for at least three days already, and will be for another week -- legations coming in with all their people from all the planet.

When we finally got here both of us were hurting badly, neither of us had gotten more than 4-5 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours and neither of us possessed the intelligence of a 3 month old blood hound pup.

Even so, (though dimly, as physically miserable as I was, and not with a window seat) I felt a thrill of recognition that only people who love literature in the English language and who have been studying the development of the United States and have lived in those early English colonies that are Virginia and Maryland probably will feel (these are the regions that contributed so much population, at least ruling class population, to those colonies). Once the plane was over England, on the route to Heathrow, we crossed all that English countryside that is between Oxford and London, the topography of BBC television series like Midsomer Murders, one of my favorite series, set within hedgerows and walls that mark the boundaries of properties here, signatures of southwest England.  Anyone who is pleased by prospects of well-cultivated, rich rural fields and pastures, amply watered, with fat, contented livestock and poultry, old family estates and farms, trees and flowers, very gently rolling meadows and hills, will know what I mean. Some parts of our drive in Minnesota on the way to Ottertail Lake (by way of Fox Home) when we were kids, had that look of rural care and prosperity, which imprinted “Ultimate Good Life” on my soul.  Of course in the upper Midwest we didn't have those boundary markers. At one point I thought, thinking of Ned’s videos from his Angolan flights, “Now England has far more trees than Angola does (at least those regions of Angola)!”

We took a short nap in the afternoon, went for a walk or two, got British money, got some groceries, had a classic English pub meal in a classic English pub. This included a stout, Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Bitter, for el V, which, el V announced, had restored him to the Faith. "I realize this summer I suffered a crisis of faith in beer. Just one wretched excuse for beer from these over-rated perfumeries that call themselves micro breweries. But at this moment I've entered beer heaven." From up in Yorkshire, Sam Smith's is much superior to Guiness, at least the Guiness we get in NYC, even on tap in an Irish bar. Not my kind of stuff, but Ned was in heaven. Recall he's been off beer since the end of June. At home we worked for while, him on the Angola epic and me on a part of The American Slave Coast in the colonial Virginia section.

We went down for good at 10 or 22, depending on how you track time.  We wouldn't have slept last night except for adding another duvet to the bed.  Between those and snugged into each other, we slept well. Don't know if the melatonin contributed or not (it didn't do us any good for sleeping during the flight), but despite waking often, we went right back to sleep, getting up at 8:45 A.M, to rain and the cold. I bet we'd gotten up earlier though, if it had been sunny.

We are going to have to get some warmer clothes. It was like going to Cuba in February, but in reverse.  Your brain tells you hot and humid, but in NYC, wh.ere 45 is warm, you just can't conceptualize what it means. You deplane in the Havana airport and break out into a sweat, grab your sunglasses, madly doff layer after layer, rip off your boots and unpack your sandals, which at the last minute you shoved into your carry on because you remembered that part -- all before getting to immigration.  So England -- where in NYC it's 80 today, we couldn't conceptualize c-o-l-d.  And it is. Cold. At least to us.  For the English probably this is blessed normality. We did find Host's stash of space heaters, so it's cozy now.

El V, a/k/a Grocery Warrior, armed with Host's umbrella, has returned with more groceries, for this weather is to hold through tomorrow.  In Scotland it's gusting up to 60 mph, with flooding in some places and trees and lines down.

As requested he brought back some less expensive wine. Host has massive amounts of Finest Liquor of every kind. Host particularly has wine. Full wine racks, other bottles elsewhere.  We're not about to open any of that.

We can go out for short runs at the park and various other landmarks here, despite the rain. There's a huge amount to explore all around us. Notting Hill, is part of this area that we can walk to.  It was where the English West Indies immigrants landed, in the deserted by the rich  multi-residence terraces (some built by John Nash, though exactly which ones other than those with Ionic columns, I still hazy on), when invited in back in 1950's to take London service jobs.  Thus this is where England's first race riot took place. By now most of the Jamaicans and other West Indians have given place to immigrants from Pakistan and other Muslim countries -- which if you like that kind of eating is terrific (and we do like it). These sections still retain some flavor of that West Indian predominance era if you look. Immediately where we are though is all veddy up market, whoever you are.  That's about what we can manage for today, due to the weather.

We're both still tired, and I'm still in a lot of pain. Though we are recovering very well, an enforced stay-in is probably good for us both.

It's clear: from whatever angle we look at it, we are very well, and very happy.  Surely it's time for wine?


* Host's entire home is a library -- a very fine one in content too.  Built-in floor to ceiling bookshelves are in every room except the bathrooms. Yes, in the laundry room and kitchen** too.  And music, of every kind.  Interesting that around here, looking through the windows from the street and from Host's windows, everyone's home is filled with floor to ceiling bookshelves, all packed with books.

** Some of the earliest digital technology ever!  To see what I mean, look up how piano rolls were made.

*** Why did granite counter tops become the must-have kitchen installation?  They are impossible to make dry when water slops on them. Mopping the water just spreads it around. Air drying leaves behind municipal water supply chemicals, bleaching the black. Needless to add that cleaning them is a royal pain. Edited to Add: Host's stove!  I'm in love.  I could do anything with his burners and oven.  And I think Host does do anything, from baking, roasting, simmering et al.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson's Moon - *Master of the Mountain*

The current issue of Smithsonian Magazine features an article by Henry Wiencek offering new insights into the life of Thomas Jefferson. Wiencek, a former Fellow at Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience, offers a thematic overview of his research in the Smithsonian article “The Little Known Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson.” His new book, Master of the Mountain, has stunned historians with well researched material dealing with Thomas Jefferson and his slaves.

The full Smithsonian article is here.

Full disclosure: we know Henry Wiencek, and have read Master of the Mountain, as well Henry's other books.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

*Scandal* *Revenge* *The Good Wife* *Blue Collar* *Treme*

Television pilot episodes are not particularly reliable indicators as to whether one will like a series. Often much of the first season isn't reliable, as some shows take time to find their legs. One of those shows was Buffy -- I tried watching the first season more than once, got impatient with the highs school horror paradigm, and gave it up.  But when trapped for weeks at home by a back kersplah , maybe half or two thirds through, Buffy hit all all the places that took up its bitter-sweet permanent residence in mine and so many watchers' imaginations.

If I'd relied on the pilot for Scandal by which to judge the show, I'd probably not continued to watch. It was frenetic and stuffed with the self-congratulation of us --meaning Olivia Pope's crew, not Our / My Nation -- as "White Hats, Good Guys, Gladiators in Suits, Knights, OMIGHOD ISN'T OLIVIA POPE AWESOME AWESOMER, AWESOMEST."  Fortunately with season one streaming from netflix, one could proceed immediately to the first episode after the pilot. As the show progresses, the annoying aspects considerably tone down while the fascinating aspects are better showcased. The fascination is partly the characters we are looking at, each of which has hers and his own secrets, and the tension as to how the seasonal arc will resolve.

If you are an African American woman, Scandal speaks to you on several other levels, in ways you can enjoy and approve of, without squicking. Per Eza Klein in the WaPo, speaking of a Black President:

"The thing is this: As a black person, there's a sort of Cinderella effect. We were not supposed to be here -- not in this time. We were supposed to inaugurate Starfleet before we inaugurated a black president. And yet here we are. And it has been so much worse in the past."

Which is one of the reasons that ABC's Scandal is so pleasing. It's a political series in which the White House, as first 'container' of our crazy U.S. politics, is as much a character as a location, and in which black characters are as much residents as they are in the 'larger' D.C.  And, if you happen also to be a black woman, it's even more so.

Another bunch of points in Scandal's favor is its soundtrack, which features frequently hits from an earlier day of the Billboard urban charts: soul, r&b, funk, doo-wop.  The show doesn't over do it -- you won't find this music in every scene or maybe even every episode.  But it's really a nice change to hear this on a television series.

Scandal's almost the antithesis, you might say, of Revenge, another superpowered (as opposed to the become-tedious supernaturally superflously superpowered)  female protagonist show, also on ABC, as being Snow White. The single character of color serves the Witch Queen Victoria is because she's a Brit with that posh education and accent; this elevates her enough that dating Daniel's Harvard frat brother is not frowned upon (though dating Daniel the Prince would be -- but then the Witch Queen frowns on the protagonist dating her son). Ashley's white by default.  It's her relative poverty in this location of multi-billionaires that's the signature of her inequality with Queen Victoria.  Or so it seems to this viewer.  However, this is a case in which proving "Mine is the right answer!" is not in play -- in fact, cannot be in play!  :).

Like Revenge, Scandal's characters have superpowers, but thankfully, not supernatural powers -- just mighty skills and capacity for reading others*.  As well as being gorgeous and possessing the perfect wardrobes and housing.

In both these shows the locations are as much 'characters' as the characters. Revenge is a form of gothic -- the mansions -- you come in and can't leave. In Scandal, it's the White House that plays this role.

I'm looking forward to the new seasons of both Scandal and Revenge, along with those of The Good Wife (in every episode I receive an extra delight jolt, thinking that the actor playing Alicia Florrick, Julianna Margulies also narrated and played Morgaine in the Mists of Avalon miniseries) and White Collar. All four are slick, stylish and contemporary; their locations play integral roles. Three of these shows depend on the actors emoting prolonged, perhaps too long even, paragraphs. White Collar, however, depends more on the rapid fire screwball comedy repartee delivery --  they include at least one entirely authentic screwball episode per season.

Then there's Treme -- a whole other level of television excellence, though this is the quintessential series which cannot be removed from its location, from what its characters do and are, and how they speak.


*I'm  tired out by supernatural superpowers. So I'm particularly glad there is some mature fare out there. You may argue Revenge isn't mature, but it includes mature, if evil, characters, numerous sly literary references, while modeled, for those who know, on Jacobean Vengeance Tragedies.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pheasants Under Glass: *Brideshead Revisited* & *Dance to the Music of Time*

Stray thoughts while re-watching Brideshead Revisited and Dance to the Music of Time -- both of which I've re-read a few times.

The English of the class(es) portrayed in this novels are Pheasants Under Glass:

Pheasant under glass was an earlier era's idea of the ultimate of expensive food consumed at tables of homes or restaurants vastly beyond the status and means of the average person. The pheasants were presented under glass, supposedly, to hold in the aroma and flavor of the fine cognac and other special ingredients such as mushrooms used in the preparation of the dish. 

The domes of Oxford domes, the dome of an ancestral architectural monstrosity of a house, the domes of Venice. The narrators of both Brideshead and Dance know all three.

In Temporary Kings (1973)  Jenkins, the narrator of Dance to the Music of Time's  volumes, attends a Venetian literary conference in 1958. During their enchanted summer of Et in Arcadia Ego, Sebastian and Charles depart from Brideshead to Sebastian’s father in Venice.  All enchanted men of their class go to Oxford, get to Venice and Italy in their youth – and if they don't live themselves in domed ancestral piles as children, as young fellows they visit those who do: Ryder to Brideshead and all the other piles he paints later, and Jenkins to the Flitton estate, and all those he visits during his life.

What else the works have in common: the alcoholic failures of Sebastian Flyte and Charles Stringham ; the insufferable Samgrass and Widermerpool; the ultra-successful but crass deal-makers Rex Mottram and Sir Magnus Donners. But there's no Brideshead parallel to Dance's mad, bad, self-destructive fatal Pamela Flitton, unless you can see her faintly in Head's malicious character of Anthony Blanche.

Stringham is tragic: a character whose alcoholism transforms into authentic spiritual humility.  This a stark contrast with Sebastian’s self-exile in Morocco, in service to an illiterate German brute, while remaining a drinker. Cordelia, Sebastian's devoutly Catholic sister, insists that Sebastian is not only best loved of God, but is a saint.  Important question to resolve -- is it because Sebastian is homosexual, so not even Waugh's sympathy can transmute him into sainthood, despite stating so? Committing homosexual acts, knowingly, willingly, and unrepentently, is a mortal sin.  Powell's Stringham is straight,  or at least asexual by the time he reaches his sainthood of accepting his failures and working to commit no harm?

The shared loathing of  WWII's military life of the narrators, a military that brings them under the command of loathsome twits such as Widmerpool -- who cannot resist torturing those of lesser rank when the opportunity arrives  -- and being surrounded by people who are not their class in education or understanding.  However, Jenkins, a deeper personality, with a wide curiosity about people and the world, finds respect and friendship with many of his fellow soldiers, whereas by now snobbish Ryder can or will. I didn't get the impression that Ryder started a snob, but turned into one because of his friendship with the Flytes-Marchmains and their like.  He marries a friend of Julia's and despises poor Celia, as he despises all the people of the set, other than the Flytes-Marchmains, just as they dismiss as fundamentally unimportant anyone who isn't themselves.

Brideshead (1945) seems to manage in one novel, in the years the two works share, what Powell takes decades and 12 volumes (1951-1975) to do. Waugh’s novel begins during WWII, but flashes back to 1922, when Charles Ryder and Sebastian go up to Oxford. Powell’s first novel begins at the public school Charles and Nicholas Jenkins attend, in 1921-22, and concludes at Oxford.

Both narrators are involved in car accidents while at Oxford – sometimes I get confused between these works, as they have so much in common, in incident, location and characters. So I had to look this one up, and it is the case.  Both Ryder and Jenkins are in a car accident because the driver-friend is inebriated.

I keep wondering who is this uncle of Charles Ryder’s –is this the father of his cousin, Jasper, who advises and scolds Charles at the start and conclusion of his first Oxford year? Jenkins has an important uncle too.

Brideshead Revisited (television miniseries 1980); the classic onscreen Head.  was adapted by John Mortimer (Rumpole of the Bailey); it is widely regarded as among the best miniseries ever made.

Dance to the Music of Time (television miniseries 1997); adapted by Hugh Whitmore does not share the same reputation as Head -- but it is worth watching if you are the sort of person, who, like me, likes to watch this sort of thing.

It's more difficult to successfully adapt a 12 volume novel series into 416 minutes of television than a single short novel into 659 minutes.  As well. Brideshead had a much larger budget -- and fewer characters.

Re-watching confirms the feeling I've had since my first reads of these two different work of literature:

Jenkins and his circles were ultimately interesting. Many of them were decent and compassionate people. Moreover, they all did things, accomplished things, even the horrible Widmerpool, even the washed up Stringham.

Whereas Charles Ryder is right about himself and the Marchmains -- they lived wasted, useless lives. The problems of Brideshead's people -- 
none of them are interesting, at least by the later years. Charles's father was initially amusing, looked at from the outside, but he wreaked destruction on his family. Lady Marchmain was a bore but she too supposedly destroyed her family. I could see the terrible effect of Ryder senior, but I was told of Lady Marchmain's, which was so awful, that her husband left her, and her children, at least Sebastian, hated her. It has never been clear to me just why this was the case. It still is not, but I don't care either.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

*Revenge* 2 + Pasta

While making Saturday night's pasta and waiting for el V to get back from the studio I watched the last eps of Revenge.

It got more than a little Buffyesque by the last third. We even have a gay computer genius like Willow was, but Nolan's a he, and a billionaire proprietor of a social networking site or something like that. In any case, Nolan's great at any digital application you need performed, from finding the dirt on someone, keeping up hidden surveillance, changing data -- whatever you need he can do. And a billionaire so he can buy whatever or lose whatever and never notice. Several times over. Like Emily-Amanda and everybody else in the show are multi-billionaires, except the poor Stowaway Bar owner. Team Jack -- who ain't got jack, hahaha! -- and his brother, Declan.

We feel the Good Slayer Buffy / Bad Slayer Faith kind of thing with Emily, who is really Amanda, and Amanda, who is really Emily, though this switched identity thing going on is not supernatural. (There's the dead on arrival last season too of Ringer,* with SMGellar playing two sisters, one supposedly good and one supposedly not, both equally comatose as far as the audience was concerned.). 

By the last episode of Revenge's first season we learn there is a whole new level of Conspiracy Badness, which is called ... get this ... the ... INITIATIVE! The final episode had some serious ass kicking between a really Bad Guy and Emily Who Is Really Amanda. I wonder if SMG's fight double did this one too -- the fighting style looked fairly Buffyesque, and, of course, blonde.

So now that the EviLe Witch Queen Victoria is dead dingdong, we have a whole new group of Bads to go after, who were part of killing the Good Dad of Emily Who Is Amanda, and who seem to have Emily Who Is Amanda's mother prisoner. O, and the Bad Dad Grayson, who isn't the dad of Emily Who Is Amanda's half sister Charleotte is still living. And his son, Team Daniel, seems to becoming his Bad Dad -- though his mother, Witch Queen Victoria is dead. But wait! his half-sister, who is also half sister of Emily Who Is Amanda has started down the road to being her Mom who is a total Bad Witch-Bitch, who repented before she got blown to smithereens. This is a soap opera, totally. A Gothic soap opera, no less.

Because it's about the House(s).  Gothic = girl + house, and at least some bad weather.

The location is these two mansions in the Hamptons, plus the Stowaway Bar. And the beach. Except for the Graysons, none of these multiple billionaires has a single servant in their immaculate castles. You never see Emily Who Is Amanda shopping, exercising, getting buffed, mani-ed and pedi-ed or doing any of the things you know billionaire socialites do -- except talk on the phone. That's pretty much what these people do is talk on the phone, even -- particularly! -- at the constant round of parties. They are trapped in these houses. People either don't want to leave like the Mistress Lydia,  are always going to leave like Team Jack, but like the Hotel California (or, you know, these are EviLe billionaires shafting us all, more like Roach Hotel)  they never ever manage to leave. Even if they leave, like Amanda Who Is Emily, she always comes back (and pregnant -- did we mention the third or was fourth time Amanda Who Is Emily returned, she was preggers, with supposedly the baby of Team Jack who hasn't got jack. The same Team Jack that Emily Who Is Amanda is really in love with, her childhood friend.

And thus, Voila! Season 2. Which premieres at the end of this month.


*Ringer is now available for instant watching on netflix.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

*Hip Deep Angola* Premieres

The first episode goes up today and will be available at

It will air on WNYE 91.5 FM in New York Saturday at 11 p.m. and Monday at noon.

You can also hear it (right now) at

[Sorry -- the photos didn't come through in the press release, cut and pasted below. ]

* * *

September 13, 2012 
Afropop Worldwide / 718-398-2733


Premiering in September and continuing in four episodes through November, AFROPOP WORLDWIDE’s HIP DEEP ANGOLA will present an unprecedented exploration of the history and contemporary reality of this southern African nation -- a story told in music.

Angola is not an easy place to report from even now, but until recently, it was almost impossible. From 1961 to 2002, it was at war on its own territory, emerging with little in the way of infrastructure. Now, fueled by oil revenues, it’s undergoing a massive national construction project unlike anything else in the world.
Produced by HIP DEEP co-founder Ned Sublette, who traveled to Angola in July, and featuring commentary by leading musicians and distinguished scholars, HIP DEEP ANGOLA will air on public radio stations around the  country via Public Radio International. (In New York City it airs on WNYE, 91.5 FM, on the Saturday following distribution date at 11 p.m., and again on Monday at 12 noon.) It’s available streaming as of the distribution date at

HIP DEEP ANGOLA 1: MUSIC AND NATION IN LUANDA (distribution: September 13) explores the role music played in the creation of a uniquely Angolan consciousness as the country struggled toward independence in the 1960s and ‘70s after centuries of colonialism. Our guide will be Dr. Marissa Moorman, historian of southern Africa and author of Intonations: A Social History of Music in Luanda, Angola from 1945 to Recent Times.
On the ground in Angola, producer Ned Sublette talks to critic and musicologist Jomo Fortunato, and to guitarist and bandleader Carlos Vieira Dias. We’ll hear the pathbreaking Ngola Ritmos, who dared sing songs in Kimbundu publicly when it was prohibited by the Portuguese. And we’ll hear the voices of Teta Lando, Urbano de Castro, Artur Nunes, and Luis Vizconde, from the age when the guitar-driven style called semba ruled, as well as some snazzy ‘60s guitar instrumentals. We’ll also check in on the new generation of semba, via Paulo Flores and Yuri Da Cunha.

HIP DEEP ANGOLA 2: 21st CENTURY URBAN ANGOLA: KIZOMBA, KUDURO, AFRO-HOUSE AND BEYOND (distribution: September 27) takes us to  the street in Angola’s dense, smoggy, oil-booming capital city of Luanda. Peace came to Angola in 2002 after forty-two years of war, and now everything is different.
The postwar generation of the last ten years communicates via text-messaging and electronic music. Producer Ned Sublette checks out kuduro (literally, hard-ass) – the high-energy electronic dance music that dominates Luanda today, as well as the the zouk-like couple dance of kizomba, a phenomenon that began in the 80s and still packs in dancers to Luanda clubs, and, on a more underground level, the computer-driven style called Afro-House.
We’ll talk to musicologist Stefanie Alisch, who’s been studying the world of kuduro in Luanda this year; historian Marissa Moorman about kizomba and the early days of kuduro; transgendered whirlwind dancer and rap diva Titica, the first out-gay African music star; 21-year-old superstar Cabo Snoop, whose “Windeck” became a hit via Bluetooth; Coréon Dú, executive producer of the weekly kuduro TV program Sempre a Subir; the charismatic, comic hosts of that program, the duo of Os Namayer, better known as Príncipe Ouro Negro e Presidente Gasolina (Prince Black Gold and President Gasoline); DJ Satelite, a leading beatmaker and producer on the Afro-House scene; and Jó Kindanje, the Angolan writer who published the first book on kuduro.

HIP DEEP ANGOLA 3: A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY TO MBANZA-KONGO (distribution date TBA). Today Mbanza-Kongo (Kongo City) is part of Angola, in the north where the Congo River divides Angola from the  Democratic Republic of Congo. When the first missionaries arrived there in 1491, it was the seat from which the Manikongo (king) ruled over a large area that reached to south of Luanda. It was a city of luxury, with perhaps as many as 60,000 people at its peak. To make this unprecedented program, producer Ned Sublette traveled to Mbanza-Kongo to rendezvous with Dr. Bárbaro Martínez Ruiz, professor of art and art history at Stanford.
We’ll learn about the simbi, the spirits that Martínez Ruiz describes as “the multiple power of god”; hear Antonio Madiata play the lungoyi-ngoyi, the two-stringed viola of the Kongo court; attend a session of the lumbu, the traditional tribunal of elders; listen to the voice of a deceased singer who took 500 years of genealogical knowledge with him when he departed; talk to a traditional healer; and meet Gabriel Bortolani, a Capuchin priest who has made a deep anthropological study of the area. With the help of historian C. Daniel Dawson and with Angolan composer and musicologist Victor Gama, we’ll examine Kongo-Ngola culture in the diaspora – in Brasil, Haiti,  Cuba, and more.

HIP DEEP ANGOLA 4: THE CUBAN INTERVENTION IN ANGOLA (distribution date TBA). The twenty-seven-year-long Angolan civil war was also an international crossroads of the Cold War, involving Cuba, the Soviet Union, Zaire, South Africa, and the United States. When it was over, Namibia was independent, apartheid had fallen, Angola was a nation, and the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. Through music, interviews, and historical radio clips, this program will tell the story of Cuba’s massive commitment in Africa, tracing an arc from 1959 to 1991. We’ll talk to Piero Gleijeses, foreign policy specialist at Johns Hopkins University and author of Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa 1959-1976, and to Marissa Moorman, author of the forthcoming Tuning in to Nation: Radio, State Power, and the Cold War in Angola, 1933-2002, who will share with us rare archival recordings of radio broadcasts featuring the voices of Agostinho Neto, Jonas Savimbi, and others. We’ll talk to Cuban trovador Tony Pinelli, who traveled in a brigada artística playing music for Cuban soldiers and for Angolans. And from Cuba, Angola, Zaire, and Portugal, we’ll hear some of the music that accompanied the struggle.

HIP DEEP ANGOLA was produced with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY TO MBANZA-KONGO was supported by a 2012 Knight Luce Fellowship for Reporting on Global Religion. The fellowship is a program of the University of Southern California's Knight Chair in Media and Religion.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Today - 9/11

It's currently bright blue sky and 56 degrees.

We're working against deadline, which includes later this week another appointment at the World Trade Center Health Center.

I am getting a haircut this morning.

Edited: I love the stylist I've been fortunate enough to find, finally, after so many disappointments. She been doing hair in this neighborhood since she was 23, and now her son is starting his first semester of college next week -- a music school, in Miami. Over the four years I've been going to her we've slowly learned things about each other, and we have quite a bit in common.

This is the first time she's been open on 9/11. This is the most normal day I've had since 9/11. It's hard to comprehend that it's been eleven years since we watch the Tower fall, standing on the sidewalks -- she outside her salon, us outside our apartment building -- and breathing what we didn't know we were breathing yet -- so much of it was invisible to the eye. Our memories of that day and the days that followed are still so vivid and sharp.

She had to leave her salon's location, because it was closed for so long -- she even had trouble getting back home, which is uptown, that day, and then couldn't get back into the neighborhood for all those days we were closed off by military corden. Just as we lost our work and living, she lost her establishment. She moved to where she is now, which is much smaller, with only two other stylists on staff. She has no receptionist or cleaner. She does the reception and cleaning herself.

Ned and I are now part of the patients at the World Trade Center Health Clinic, that treats people whose health has been affected.

We speculated that perhaps why this 9/11 feels more 'normal' is because the Obama administration dispatched Osama bin Laden. Some sort of closure for us, whose lives were so changed by that day.

Here is a first hand account by one of our dear friends, who we had not at that time even met, who, at that time did not live where they live now, but just -- well, he tells you.

It’s like New Orleans residents, with Katrina and the Failure of the Levees. We who saw this, breathed it, lived it, somehow, early in meeting, there’s something that clues us in, that we share this.

For us in particular the suppressed rage from 9/11 and how our federal government responded, blew up in us with the Failure of the Levees. 


Revenge (2011) Season One, streams from netflix.

There is only one super power,  unlimited wealth. When you are super rich you get  the other superpowers: perfectly pretty youth and awesome hacker ability. 

This series, at least the first season, is first class trashy fun – as are the Jacobean plays on which it's modeled, such as HamletThe Spanish Tragedy, and particularly the extravagant The Revenger’s Tragedy – though the television version of this wildly popular form of Renaissance drama is missing the obscenity and signature consciously comic effects of that later development.

This series’ first season is the Evil Stepmother and Snow White, with a strong dash of Glenn Close's Damages’s play with the narrative's chronology. We also have the now requisite competing boyfriends: Team Daniel and Team Jack. 

It may be difficult to keep a veneer of plausibility past this first season. Once we know it all and the protagonist’s antagonists have been punished, where do you go?  The following seasons become pointless shifting of relationships and motivations: now we’re good after all, now we’re bad again -- losing the sizzle of the first season. That’s what happened with Veronic Mars. There’s a reason that Revenge was called the first contender to take the place of Lost, which, in the end, went nowhere.

Second season of Lost, er, Revenge starts at the end of this month.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Wachowskis & *Cloud Atlas*

A long, interesting essay in the September 10th issue of the New Yorker, which is available online. It includes personal information about the Wachowskis, as well as their process for creating the shooting script for such a complicated novel.

I'm looking forward to seeing this film. This is based on the trailers, which appear fascinating and gorgeous.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

In the Age of Revolutions

Talleyrand coined the famous, "Women are politics!" and did so long before the Revolution or the Directoire.

We haven't produced a public -- or private -- figure anything like Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, prince, bishop (defrocked), statesman, diplomat, imperial elector and much else besides.

We couldn't, one would consider, for this nation hasn't had the interlocked three ruling class estates to lock down all opportunity for itself: the Roman Church (Talleyrand received Jesuit training, among other training), the aristocracy and the army.  The Church and the aristocracy owned the land, and the the Church and the army was run by their enlisted and appointed aristocrats.

This is a very different world in every way than Atlantic seaboard North American colonial culture and economy, where there was always land to be had, one way and another, and labor = cash.  It is enlightening then,  to contemplate this defrocked French aristo, dislocated to Philadelphia,  fled from the Revolution that he'd done his best to assist into being, walking with the help of his cane and his black mistress, the icy streets of the early Republic's capital.

Talleyrand in 1794 - 1796 Philadelphia personifies culture shock. He was a most unwilling immigrant and refugee. It was leave England where he'd initially escaped from the Terror, or be deported back to France and certain death.  This reminds one of other refugees from yet another revolution: the slaveholding escapees from the San Domingue Revolution, coming to safer haven in Cuba.  Then it was either swear allegience to Spain or leave.  So again they packed up their mistresses and families of color -- whatever the planter's tone of skin -- and flee, this time to New Orleans – *which either is in negotiation for purchase or just recently purchased by – the Americans.

For Citizen-Prince Talleyrand, there was only one place in the world in which any man of value could live, Paris, the City of Light and Salons, salons hosted and dominated by brilliant, witty women, women who ruled both the art of flirtation and the art of politics. He didn't much care for Philadelphia, America or Americans.  The only person he'd encountered that he judged worthy of respect was Alexander Hamilton.  This judgment of Talleyrand's would bode badly, then, for the self-exiled, disgraced Aaron Burr's hopes to have a meeting with Napoleon, during which he hoped to offer his talents in service of the Emperor. Talleyrand ensured that the Emperor never encountered the only American who resembled himself at all, and who resembled him more closely than he liked to admit.


* el V takes some issue with that statement, observing: "It was 1809 -- Louisiana safely in Claiborne's hands since dec. 20 1803. "

Still, I stand with my statement as I intended it to convey not a specific date, but this: "It didn't happen all at once.  There were greater waves, but the movement was constant for decades. The multiple revolutions in the old world and new – had far more forced refugees and immigrants -- and even deportees --  than many realize. It was a continuing churn in population and individuals that also churned culture and ideas. This took place separately and outside traditional culture churn that comes with armies encountering places, people, languages and culture different from that they were born into. After Napoleon's fall, this movement was felt even more strongly in South America with her revolutions and wars of independence.  One great example are the consquences of Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt, and England’s successful campaign to drive him and his army out. The furnishings of the era are only one areas in which we can see the force of that impact, in Europe, in South America and the young USA Republic.

 I didn't explain what I meant, and what I said, I expressed poorly.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The President Asks For Our Vote

Romney never once in his acceptance speech asked for anybody's vote. He doesn't know how to ask. Nor did he mention the wars, the soldiers, climate change, or anything other than how awful government is and how he'll be the best god-danged CEO of Corporation USA.

Bam! 1 - the First Lady - Bam 2 Clinton - Bam 3! - the President

And in between -- Wow! - Joe Biden did great. The way he pointed out the difference between what government does, and how corporations -- like Bain -- work, that was a 1-2-3 knockout bit. There were other ones too. Just one after another. I'd rank the presenters on the level from "good," to "setting the house on fire!" For all of the three days -- which of course I wasn't able to listen or see all of. I actually wanted to watch the vote roll call, after Clinton's speech. These were really interesting too. [ These were really interesting too. But we were working all this time and are still working, and I cannot say how grand it is to be working. The only people working harder than us are the people who don't have work. I'm speaking here from personal experience, OK. And this was left out by the frackin' mess bloggers entry codes are -- they dump your content constantly -- and you don't even know it until / if you look again. ]

In my opinion, listening and watching carefully, it seems that Obama delivered just as he needed to. They pulled this together very well. And inclusive -- they never missed an opportunity to speak of we and you, not me and mine. They never missed an opportunity to say she and her. It was like the attendees.

There was an entire aisle of wheelchairs, that went from the top of the auditorium to the floor. Arab American Democrat signs. Yarmulkas. Asians -- particularly Asian women. Women, everywhere. The attendees tended to young, youngish and middle-aged, including a lot of little children. So many latinos, so many. They seemed almost to be the largest group -- but one must keep in mind that Latin-Americans are a whole big diverse group, made of many, just like Asians are. Again, the smallest group seemed to be older white males.

The president is a man. An adult male. Such a relief. So few males out there are: no matter how old they are, they still are mostly concerned with things that seem made for kids, boys, 10 - 16. Obama, he's mature. Even though he plays basketball :)

I don't think too many downtown NYC even noticed there was a DNC going on. It's fashion week in Manhattan, and our neighborhood is one of the primary ground zeros for that. The streets of the entire central part of SoHo was police barrier blocked off from Broadway to West Broadway, open only to the limos of the rich, the famous and the brand name, and all their hangers on. The sidewalks ran with cheap champagne last night, as every designer with a retail presence here -- of which there are hundreds surely -- kept the store open until midnight or something for all and sundry who could manage to get in, while the free cheap champers and snackies flowed for the all. However, of course, for the bold-faced SUNDRY, there were velvet roped off areas with much higher quality foods and drinks, and chairs and tables and waitperson, service. Of course, none of THESE PEOPLE eat or drink anything, or if they do, they throw it up again, asap.

So we've got thousands of well-heeled, well-connected, fashion professionals of all sorts here from everywhere. Heard today in the tediously humid 88 degree afternoon, in a pronounced German accent, complaining to an English speaker: "There are so many Germans here. What are they doing here?????"  The same thing you are, silly!

FYI -- Fashionistas from the world over are cramming the convenience stores here, i.e. traditionally called delis, to buy lottery tickets.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Lady’s convention speech seven grade levels higher than Ann Romney’s

Just a posting fool today -- the First Lady and the Dem Convention got me all energizer bunny-like, I guess.

At Raw Story:

The speech First Lady Michelle Obama delivered at Tuesday night’s Democratic convention read at a twelfth grade level, according to an analysis by a University of Minnesota political scientist, making it, by that measure, the most complex speech delivered by a presidential candidate’s spouse at a nominating convention.
By contrast, the speech delivered by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, checked in at a fifth grade reading level. Romney’s speech marked the lowest reading level for a spouse’s convention speech since the practice first began in 1992, according to Eeic Ostermeier, the Minnesota political scientists.
Ostermeier reached his findings using the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, a metric that rates sentence structure and difficulty of word use, and then computes numbers corresponding to grade levels to indicate how verbally advanced a given text is. For example, longer sentences and words score more points, while monosyllabic words score fewer points.
Why does this make me laugh, even though I'm not surprised?

Paul Kinkaid Assesses The Current State of Print SF/F

In the Los Angeles Review of Books; it's a long article:

"Paul Kincaid on Gardner Dozois's The Year's Best Science Fiction : Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection, Richard Horton's The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy : 2012 Edition and Nebula Awards Showcase 2012"

The overwhelming sense one gets, working through so many stories that are presented as the very best that science fiction and fantasy have to offer, is exhaustion. Not so much physical exhaustion (though it is more tiring than reading a bunch of short stories really has any right to be); it is more as though the genres of the fantastic themselves have reached a state of exhaustion.
In the main, there is no sense that the writers have any real conviction about what they are doing. Rather, the genre has become a set of tropes to be repeated and repeated until all meaning has been drained from them.

Toulouse Street

On the blog, Toulouse Street, the writer mentions:

The Young Leadership Council’s One Book One New Orleans pick for the fall is Ned Sublette’s The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square, by Ned Sublette.
The web site is down but you already own this one, don’t you? Really? Well, all the local indie bookstores are open and you have no excuse not to grab a copy. More details on the YLC’s annual project to get an entire city reading and talking about the same book when they get their website back up.

So evidently the announcement has gone out, so I feel free to bring it up.  El V's pleased and humbled that The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square, to be the title chosen this year by the Young Leadership Council's One Book One New Orleans.  We're really looking forward to being in New Orleans next month in connection with whatever has been planned (one would think that Isaac's plays havoc with all that as well as everything else -- a hurricane's damage hits all areas of life,  from refrigerators filled with rotting food, to event planning).  And seeing friends!

Media Blowhards Blither

For pete's sake -- on and on, can Obama the speaker stand up to Bill the speaker? Puleeze. You media blowhards are the same media blowhards that gushed about Obama the candidate's speechifying powers back in 2008.

Why can't the media just accept that the Dems have a plethora of great speakers and the current Dem president is the equal of them all?

I have been impressed by them all the past two nights.

Sometimes the media blowhards, particularly on NPR, seem to be revealing a sneaky hope or expectation that Obama will fail, as they fall over themselves about Clinton being Clinton, which, of course, nobody does better than Clinton. :)

The blowhards refuse to see, it seems, how fired up the base is for Obama. Our recording engineer friend, who is worked both conventions, and thus sees and hears up close and personal, says that many openly wept during the First Lady's speech (I teared up even, at home). That the huge stadium actually listens to all the speeches and pays attention, both nights, whether it was Strickland and Castro or Warren and Cristina Saralegui. However at Tampa, nobody paid any attention to anybody, including Ann Romney. They chattered all the way through both Romneys, texted, and even went to sleep. Since They are mostly old white men, I suppose they couldn't resist the opportunity for some snore time.

The media is such a frackin' bought and paid for shill of The Corporation of America.

ETA: This just in from dear friend C2 (who is run off her behind coz it's Fashion Week here): "BESIDES THE FACT THAT THE DEMS ARE A WHOLE LOT BETTER LOOKING! Ha!"
And I responded, "And younger!"

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Emily Dickinson: A Recovered Daguerreotype of the Poet in 1859

On the eve of the Civil War.  It's only the second photographic image we have of her, the first from 1847, of the adolescent Emily Dickinson.

Comparing the 1859 picture with the 1847 photograph known to be of Dickinson, Professor Susan Pepin of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Centre measured eyelid and facial features of both women. "The two women have the same eye opening size with the right eye opening being slightly larger than the left. The left lower lid in both women sits lower than the right lower lid," she wrote in a report. "Other similar facial features are evident between the women in the daguerreotypes. The right earlobe is higher on both women. The inferonasal corneal light reflex suggests corneal curvature similarity, allowing us to speculate about similar astigmatism in the two women. Both women have a central hair cowlick. Finally, both women have a more prominent left nasolabial fold."
Pepin concluded that "after a thorough examination of both of these women's facial features as viewed from the 1847 and 1859 daguerreotypes, I believe strongly that these are the same people".
Amherst has also searched the Emily Dickinson Museum's textile collection and has found at least one fabric sample in a blue check it believes is a candidate for the dress the woman supposed to be Dickinson is wearing in the image. It is planning further work by a textile expert to determine whether the two are the same. The woman on the right, thought to be Kate Turner, is wearing widow's black, "as would have been appropriate following the May, 1857 death of her young husband, Campbell Ladd Turner", it said.
Amherst does admit that the dress worn in the photograph by "Dickinson" does seem to be out-of-date for the late 1850s, but it believes that "may be of less significance when one considers the 23-year-old Dickinson's comment to friend Abiah Root in 1854, 'I'm so old fashioned, Darling, that all your friends would stare'".

It is absurdly splendid, staring at this photo and marveling, "Those are the lips of Emily Dickinson!"

Did Our FLOTUS Rock - Or - DID SHE ROCK! + Ted Strickland

Her speech last night in support of her husband.

Though the truth is, I always prefer her. But he does try to live up to her expectations. :)

She really was good. And so beautiful. Also, one who is as addicted to nail polish as I am could not but help noticing her choice of a non-trad nail polish color. She's the best First Lady I've ever experienced. Jackie Kennedy was adored, from all I read, but I wasn't there, you know? This First Lady -- not only am I there, but I have enough life experience to See her in her various aspects.

And boy, did former governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland, tear it up and set it on fire! Nobody hates reThugs more than Ohio Democrats and activists, I swear. Having some personal contact due to our Big Name Fashion Designer sort-of-friend (it's a member of her immediate family who is the real friend) with the Ohio Democrat politicos, I can vouch for that. It's all very person to them.

The floor of the auditorium was as diverse as it could get, inclusive from yarmulkas to head scarves to bald heads and maned heads and you name it. The one group though that seemed fairly scarce in crowd filled with inter-racial couples and same sex couples, older women as well as the general over-all sense of youngish, was white men.

They seem to have a decent campaign slogan: "Forward, not back!" It kinda rolls. It tells the truth too: same sex marriage, end of don't ask don't tell so you can honestly be yourself in the military; it recognizes the reThug voter suppression activity (Ohio is a ground floor state for that, and they've been working on voter suppression and outright election stealing since the 2000 campaign), as well as the war on the settled law about women's reproductive rights.

So the Dems are rolling good convention. It's sad they can't point to more than "Saved the auto industry" re the economy. Yet that stimulus bill, which included the tax cut on small business and under $100,000 incomes really did save a huge number of us. Just not enough of us. They can do better. One hopes that they will, if we give them four more years. Because, you know the reThugs will have been so over-contributed by the 1% and even the .01%k, and the Dems will be so out-spent, that if the Dems win, they've got some serious leverage with which to break the gridlock in D.C. by The Party That Just Says NO. NO To Everything, except hatred of women and everyone who isn't a white man, and war, more war, everywhere on everything, and stealing from everyone else to inflate the obscenely bloated wealth of the masters of the financial and corporate crime syndicates.

I began my attention to the first night of the Democratic Convention with NPR, and switched to CNN on my computer for the speeches.

NPR -- as usual, what stooges and plants for the ReThugs they are. They were shocked at what Strickland included in his speech, such as voter repression and ever using the word "Lies." "That's outside the boundaries," the NPR paid stooges whispered. They even managed to sneer a bit at the First Lady's admiration for hers and the President's families. They need to be fired.

Because this is what is wrong with our politics and how it has been going wrong for such a long time in this nation. It's wholly owned by the Fat Cat Corporation of America, and refuses to even recognize a lie as a lie, much less call out a lie as a lie. Unless it is as a lie about someone like Shirley Sherrod -- a Democrat, a black activist, a woman, appointed by our first black president -- four for one!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Neighborhood Graffito

New since yesterday, spied while running a morning errand:

"Love Stories SUCK!" written in blood red.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Piety Recording Studio

Has its power back as of this morning.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


People in Louisiana need our help now after Hurricane Isaac as much as they did in 2005 after Katrina.

How this must hurt everyone on the Gulf that this is so, I can only imagine.

Right now I have no advice as to what organization to which we can contribute to provide assistance.  The Red Cross is busy but I myself have no trust for the Red Cross.

We've managed in the past by dealing directly with individuals who we know are trustworthy.  As some New Orleans friends are getting their power back (not all of New Orleans, by any frackin' mean at all though!), I'll ask for their advice.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pasta Espaldarazo + Angola

Me, tonight, achieved the perfection of seasonal pasta.


This is an achievement, considering the four-part History of Angola: Political, Cultural and Spiritual radio epic rules our life. 

El V is doing nothing but this, plus all the supporting content materials too.

The first program is recorded on Tuesday and airs soon after.

The programs should be finished before we leave on the 21st. This is hard hard hard work  But he's loving it passionately, no matter how draining it is.  That he can do this epic signifies a huge leap in his life's work. This is who he is: bringing together music with history and culture, history and culture that is part of this nation and all the New World's history and culture, returning to the source and root.

Nevertheless our personal culture was not neglected, our personal culture in which Saturday night pasta has a huge place.  As well as Phil Schaap on WKCR, Traditions in Swing -- which is, of course, this long weekend, Louis Armstrong.

Sometimes life is so good -- all the same elements that make for one's life's goodness coming together all at once at the same time.  This was the case when it came to dinner this Saturday night -- as is the case so many Saturday nights for us because we are among the world's most fortunate persons.  And we are deeply grateful. 


The MiTurd Keeps It Coming

He's strutting and posing in Louisiana yesterday at the invitation of a fellow turd. He meets a woman who has been made homeless by the floods in Plaquemines. He tells her to "go home and dial 211."

Wind Map

You can watch this for hours, rather like sitting by the water, watching the waves roll in, and out.  Except this is the wind, made visible.