". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Michelle Obama White House Christmas 2012

The First Lady and her staff have provided another splendid White House Christmas look.

As usual there are many re-purposed and resurrected items, including tree decorations from each administration's First Ladies since the Kennedy White House. There is much use of re-cycled materials. Yet everything looks ample, festive and elegant, while providing all the warmth, cheer and comfort that we wish for the Christmas season. I am impressed. First Lady Michelle Obama, as hostess to the party for military personnel's children that officials presents the Christmas White House to the public wore another lovely outfit that she's worn more than once before (as this coverage is in the WaPo's Style section, the reporters always mention what she wears and always tells us when she's worn it before -- evidently they can remember these things!)

This year, what is different is the use of tropical colors in some parts of the decorations -- bright and tropical and clear: citrus yellows. oranges, and greesn, fuschia (one of my favorite colors) and blues. It's gorgeous.

This Washington Post coverage provides a photograph slide show, and a video, on which we hear the FLOTUS describe White House Christmas traditions to the children. As usual she tells us all that this is "our house," and projects the real pleasure she and her family have living there. The party is so arranged that at some point the children can go running through about 11 rooms looking for Bo the White House Dog snowflake Christmas tree ornaments. It looks and feels like a real party, and the FLOTUS looks, as usual, as if she's enjoying it as much as anyone. Then there is the photo slide show.

Yes, she said, last week when the Tree arrived (there are 54 lesser trees inside the White House): "We can have Christmas now."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

After the Storm - Your Garden, Your Flowerbeds, Your Yard, Your Park

The surge with salt, e-coli bacteria sewage and other sludge filled with heavy metals and other toxic residue -- how do you deal with your soil in the aftermath? Especially if you grow vegetables and fruits, and if your kids play on that soil.

Other questions and problems: so many bulb plants were put in the ground, on their growing schedule, right before the Storm at the end of October.  Washed away, covered with toxic sludge even.  What shall we do? Can we replant bulbs now? People asking questions about what to do with their plants that spend the warmer weather on their patios -- if the apartment has one, or the fire escapes. And so on.

We have a monthly radio program about growing things in our city.  The regular expert is the  director of Open Space Greeing in NYC.  But there are many others who come in as special guests, such as those in charge of the trees in Central Park, those who deal with the turf of the shoreline parks, the botanical gardens and other of our very many green areas. It's always really interesting. This month's is particularly so, in the wake of the Storm, the clean-up from which is barely begun.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

From Da List -- Artist, Houngan

From Da List -- the photos that go with the interview are fairly spectacular, beginning where Michael started in Buffalo, into his loft and studio -- and his work:

[ " If you know me well, you know I'm a big fan of the work of my artist friend Michael Zwack. A while back (quite a while back), I interviewed him for, a website that does photo shoots of artists in their studios and neighborhoods. The interview has finally been published here. If you scroll down there are images of his djevo (altars -- Michael is a houngan asogwe, or ritual expert in vodou), as well as of his paintings-in-progress . . .

Thanks to those who have checked out HIP DEEP ANGOLA, PART THREE: A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY TO MBANZA-KONGO. I can't be objective about it, because I'm too close to it, but the experience that I'm reporting on was one of the most important things I've ever done. I'm grinding away on the fourth and final episode now. For those just tuning in, the first two HIP DEEP ANGOLAs are here and here.

In other news: I'm going to NOLA next week for events connected with One Book One New Orleans, which has chosen The World That Made New Orleans as its book this year. While I'm there, I'll be doing my first-ever performance in a New Orleans nightclub, to debut my new CD there. Attached (and appended) is the flyer . . .

The Official New Orleans Kiss You Down South Record Party and Live Concert.

Friday, Dec. 7, starts at 7, ends at 9, at Siberia, 2227 St. Claude. Tell your friends." ]

Sunday, November 25, 2012

For New York City's Sins We Got Mayor Mitch Landrieu & Recovery Czar Blakely

This makes me so pissing angry that I've not even been able to speak - write about it until today.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu sang one of the signature songs of HBO Treme at a New Orleans  benefit concert for the victims of Storm Sandy, "This City" (Will Never Drown).  (Written by Steve Earle, for Treme.)  Only people who live in New Orleans and went through and continue to go through the consequences of Katrina and the Failure of the Levees will understand my rather quirked eyebrow here.  They will also know the quirking isn't aimed at the wonderful people who paying it forward, helping the  tens and tens and tens of thousands who need help now, and will continue to need help for  long time to come. And for which we are profoundly grateful.

More seriously, this is really bad, and we have our state's Governor Cuomo to thank for this.  He's appointed former so-called 'recovery czar' to rebuild develop NYC's damaged areas.  What in hell is he thinking???????  This is an evil, ignorant, out-of-touch man, who did great harm, that all New Orleanians know.  Evidently Governor Cuomo thinks fracking upstate New York is a good thing also.  All this has is deja vu to New Orleanians.
It’s incredible. I didn’t realize water had that kind of force,” he said, describing the damage to New York and New Jersey.
You present yourself as an expert in disasters and you don't know that flood waters have force and velocity to move entire buildings?
Former Mayor Ray Nagin, who like Blakely has attempted to make speaking and consulting on disaster recovery a career after leaving office in New Orleans, appointed Blakely as recovery director the year after Hurricane Katrina. He resigned from the post in 2009, criticized for calling the city “a third world country” and its residents “buffoons” in various interviews. In a 2009 interview, he said New Orleanians were lazy and virulently racist. He often said his comments were misquoted or misinterpreted but also acknowledged he had done little to advance the area’s recovery.

Tonight is the finale of David Simon's HBO Treme, season 3. So soon. Damn it's weird watching this season. It began before Storm Sandy, but we didn't get to see any of the episodes until after Sandy had her way with us. Treme already was a story we knew. Now, damn. Just -- damn

Friday, November 23, 2012

Michelle Obama Says We Can Have Christmas Now!

I love the style and the manner in which our FLOTUS does Christmas at the White House.

The 2012 White House Christmas tree arrives. Bo does not like the horses who pull the wagon with the tree.

There is no Christmas tree this year it seems in Washington Square Park. There are no light of any kind either. Spooky walking through it today at 4:45 when the sun had already set.

Many street lights around the park and NYU are still out.

It reminds me so much of New Orleans. You think, "Well, around this part at least, everything's pretty much back to normal," and then you see, well, what's missing. Still missing, even these many years later, in New Orleans.

How Do These Things Happen?

Too sick, too busy, I did not make a Thanksgiving dinner.

Yet our refrigerator and shelves seem to have accumulated all sorts of holiday food goodies, from wines to biscotti to cheese cake, a slice of pumpkin pie, some turkey and garlic sausage dressing.  Not to mention breads of various kinds. And cheese.  And beer.

Partly it's because el V went out to get milk and brown rice yesterday morning.  I thought I'd make a black bean and wine and pork stew with rice and salad so he'd have a good lunch or something, since we wouldn't have dinner at the le Bistro until after nine PM. Sending el V to the stores alone is a classic man shopping for groceries routine.  The things he comes home with.

The other part was all day neighbors dropped by to drop off a little something.

And then I brought home most of my dinner from the Bistro because I remain without appetite still. This cough and drainage leaves me sleepless which makes for further appetite suppression.

What a strange Thanksgiving this one was.  It wasn't bad, not by any measure, just kinda -- strange.

Contributing to the dislocation of it all,  le Bistro was mobbed.  Not by the people who'd booked the prime time dinner period solid long ago.  But crowds of couples and groups begging to get in, all day, and past midnight!  Nothing remotely like this has happened before.  Who were these people?  The Bistro had no idea, other than "Tourists from all over the place."  El V asked some of the people seated around us where they were from -- everywhere: a guy from Long Island with a young woman from Australia.  Two lesbians from New Jersey.  Germany.  And Asians -- packs and packs of young Asians, mostly Japanese and Chinese, but Japanese by far the largest number.  You have never seen Asian people in le Bistro, at least not before.

"We wanted to go somewhere nice, and this looked nice."

The staff was dead by 9 PM, and yet, it went on and on.

OK, quite a few of the restaurants in our neighborhood weren't open yesterday at all, but a lot of them were.  Yet, there were no crowds for them, and there were empty tables.  What was up?  Nobody seems to know.

I wish we'd skipped this meal, but el V was determined that we had to have Thanksgiving dinner and that I not make it, even though because of work deadlines we couldn't join our friends. It was so crazy, so factory-line (they managed it so efficiently, in spite of everything) it wasn't in the least bit civilized -- and civilized is why we so prize le Bistro. It couldn't be enjoyed for anything beyond anthropology.

What sent so many people out to eat this year instead of cooking at home? Were they gearing up for the Black Thursday-Friday Madness that shows our nation at its most unmasked hideousness or what? I understand that NYC was filled with tourists and destination visitors -- and they too may well have been gearing for the Madness of late last night and today. Also so many aunts and grandparents and so on in LI, Queens, Staten Island and New Jersey were wiped out and / or in other ways not able to host a Thanksgiving meal this year. But these people seemed almost entirely from other parts of the country, so -- I don't know!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Da List: *Hip Deep Angola Part Three: A Spiritual Journey to Mbanza-Kongo now online*

This summer I had the tremendous experience of going to Mbanza-Kongo, in the north of Angola, where I recorded material for an episode of Afropop Worldwide Hip Deep and a still unfinished piece of writing.

Today is the distribution day for the show. This very special radio program will air on Public Radio International stations around the country this week. In New York, it will be heard on WNYE 91.5 FM on Saturday (24) at 11 p.m. and Monday (26) at noon.

You can hear it on Soundcloud at

Meanwhile, it's being broadcast against a background of turmoil in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. See this and this.

Produced by Ned Sublette

HIP DEEP ANGOLA 3: A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY TO MBANZA-KONGO (distribution date November 22). 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 traditional healer Pedro Lópes; and 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.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


8 Days Now, & Counting

Of being sick.  Each day a little worse.  That is all.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Coughs, Sneezes, Sleepless Nights, Work & Willie Nelson

El V's having to write the script NOW for Angola Part IV, "Cuba." This involves, among other things, not joing friends for Thanksgiving, and his going to D.C. on Saturday to interview a Cuban, a scholar, at George Washington who was there as eye-witness throughout the entire venture, and by-the-by listening to a score of Fidel's speeches, including one of the most fiery ever, that he gave in Angola to the Angolans. (Just as we had to listen to a lot of Salazar's speeches he gave to the Portuguese about the greatness of their great International Colonial Empire, which put them in the line-up of the Great World Powers, and which consisted solely of the un-developed and uneducated in repressed, oppressed Africa, without schools, roads and other infrastructure -- but they had to buy their food and wine from Portugual at inflated prices (Portugal sold more of its wine to Angola than in other markets combined), and weren't allowed to grow or make their own, or buy from anyone else. Imagine after 400 years ruling Angola no Portuguese had ever ventured into the interior. But then Salazar never set foot in Africa at all.

In the meantime I remain a mess. Wretched night. I keep expecting to be better! This has gone on long enough.

Our bistro says if we wish to eat Thanksgiving at their place, there is always a place for us -- they've been booked up for Thanksgiving since the day they re-opened from Sandy. But there's a party on Saturday I really want to go to -- will el V get back in time from D.C.? Will I be well enough to go the parties Wednesday and on Friday? I want to go to them all, very much. I feel the need of some party. It's been so grindstone and anxious for so long.

But -- in the meantime, none of this stops el V from going off to Sirius Radio and hanging out with Willie Nelson, who is in town promoting his memoir, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Today's Anniversaries

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, 1863.

50 years ago today the White House hosted Jazz for the first time: Paul Winter and his group, in the JFK White house of 1962. Doesn't that seem amazing in retrospect? That it took all that time for jazz to be American enough to enter those historic halls?
To me, these two anniversaries are not unconnected. Lincoln's Emancipation earlier in 1863 allowed all that enslaved creativity to explode a generation or two later, making a popular culture that united the world musically, a cultural expression that began to develop in the great churn of the interstate slave trade.

But of course, you notice, when Jazz did first come into the White House, it came in white ....

Saturday, November 17, 2012

3 2012 Novels + 1 Non-Fiction


So little historical fiction, whether straight historical novels or 'historical fantasy' these days does it right, does it to satisfaction. The first two titles in my current reading are two straight out historical novels that do do right and do it to the readers' great satisfaction.

Engelmann, Karen. (2012) The Stockholm Octavo. Ecco-HarperCollins, New York.

The location is the Venice of the North, Stockholm. The time is that of 1791, the European prelude to the Revolutionary virus that has spread from the Americas ( ten years ago, 1781,  was the Battle - Siege of Yorktown) to France. An historical novel, this might be called a fantasy as well. This is because the characters, from Sweden's King Gustav III, his brother Duke Karl, and Gustav's son (whose family-political intrigues play a large role on the historical stage of Europe's Age of Revolution and Napoleon's empire) to Mr. Larsson, the non-noble Swedish narrator, are caught up in a caught up in a cartomancy system run by Mrs. Sophia Sparrow, a frenchwoman in exile. Mrs. Sparrow is both the proprietor of the exclusive Stockholem gaming house and a fortune teller. Like all those who come to her, to win or lose money, or find their futures, she too has an agenda, to which her Octavo divination system is central. There is the scheming Lady Uzanne, a brilliant noble woman who perhaps wields magic via her fans and their languages, acquired from wherever in the world fans are known. Or -- perhaps both the cartomancy and the fans are merely historical elements of the era, historical in the way that alchemy, the caballa and other divination systems were anxiously employed by ambitious, curious, Englightenment figures, such as Casanova, whether in good faith or as a money-hungry adventurer-charleton? Wondering which is which is part of the pleasure of this lovely novel, which does its period -- and characters who live in it -- right.

Ennis, Michael. (2012) The Malice of Fortune. Doubleday, New York.

Was there ever a time for Europe like 1502, as the knowledge that an entire world new to them exists, and takes root? For the newly self-selected Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, despite his partition of South America between Spain Portugal, the New World is barely a blip on his concerns of restoration and expansion of the Papal States and the corporeal power of the Papal throne. Equal in drive, ambition and strategic intrigue to Alexander and his illegitimate son, Duke Valentino, Cesare Borgia, are Leonardo di Vinci and Niccolò Michiavelli. This diplomat and this military engineer get caught like flies in the very dangerous webs of Alexander, along with the most innocent one of all, Dimiata, mother of the Pope's grandchild, by his murdered son, the less gifted than Cesare, Juan. The Pope demands Dimiata find his son's killer, or she will never see her son again, and will die via prolonged torture (they were not afraid to waterboard in the 16th century -- a not very nice time, really, despite the art....). This splendid historical novel includes no characters who did not exist, and no events that did not happen. See also the author's excellent 1992 historical novel of the same era, The Duchess of Milan.

Locke, Attica. (2012) The Cutting Season. Dennis Lehane - HarperCollins, New York.

Contemporary southern Louisiana. A restored sugar plantation reaching back to the days of slavery, now a museum and event venue. The manager a single mother who grew up there, and whose own mother the was cook, their family ties to the place reaching back as far as white family who owned them and the land, and still owns the land. A murder of an immigrant -- illegal? woman hired on for the sugar harvest, commited upon the vast grounds of Belle Vie. It's an interesting novel in many ways, but does not quite live up to the praise that has been lavished on it.


Brown, Nancy Marie. (2012) Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths. palgrave-MacMillan, New York.

A small, unpretentious, charming book, whose jumping off point is the myths and characters of the Icelandic sagas of Snorri Sturluson, which so inspired Tolkien and his making of the world and characters of Lord of the Rings. It is a biography of Snorri Sturluson, which there seems never to have been one before -- which we agree with the author seems a strange literary lack. By the way, the first novel of Michael Ennis, author of The Malice of Fortune above, is titled Byzantium (1989) it features the dispossed Viking prince Harldr Sigurdarson, so make full circle here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Spielberg's *Lincoln* - Kate Masur Watched So I Don't Have To

I had been thinking about paying the $14 + admission to see this film, inspired by the historically mis-leading Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals. But then, I thought, "Spielberg. Naw, I'll just get po-ed. I'll wait for netflix."

But not only Spielberg mis-leads. Masur inaccurately labels Mrs. Keckley as a White House servant.  Mrs. Keckley was a free woman, who was an independent dressmaker, not employed at the White House.  Indeed, Mrs. Keckley  was the established dressmaker to the 'stars' of the Washington D.C. social scene,  before Mary Todd Lincoln ever arrived. Among her most devoted clients was Varina Davis, who, according to Keckley's memoir-novel, persisted in her attempts to persuade Mrs. Keckley to come back down south with her, once Secession was in progress.

In Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln,’ Passive Black Characters

By Kate Masur
The New York Times
November 12, 2012
Evanston, Ill.

Pulls from Masur's article:

[ " Mr. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” helps perpetuate the notion that African Americans have offered little of substance to their own liberation. While the film largely avoids the noxious stereotypes of subservient African-Americans for which movies like “Gone With the Wind” have become notorious, it reinforces, even if inadvertently, the outdated assumption that white men are the primary movers of history and the main sources of social progress. " ]

[ " It would not have been much of a stretch — particularly given other liberties taken by the filmmakers — to do things differently. Keckley and Slade might have been shown leaving the White House to attend their own meetings, for example. Keckley could have discussed with Mrs. Lincoln the relief work that, in reality, she organized and the first lady contributed to. Slade could have talked with Lincoln about the 13th Amendment. Indeed, his daughter later recalled that
Lincoln had confided in Slade, particularly on the nights when he suffered from insomnia. " ]

[ " Even more unsettling is the brief cameo of Lydia Smith (played by S. Epatha Merkerson), housekeeper and supposed lover of the Pennsylvania congressman and Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Stevens’s relationship with his “mulatto” housekeeper is the subject of notoriously racist scenes in D. W. Griffith’s 1915 film “Birth of a Nation.” Though Mr. Spielberg’s film looks upon the pair with far more sympathy, the sudden revelation of their relationship — Stevens literally hands the official copy of the 13th Amendment to Smith, before the two head into bed together — reveals, once again, the film’s determination to see emancipation as a gift from white people to black people, not as a social transformation in which African-Americans themselves
played a role. " ]

[ " The screenplay, written by Tony Kushner, is attentive to the language of the period and features verbal jousting among white men who take pleasure in jabs and insults. By contrast, the black characters — earnest and dignified — are given few interesting or humorous lines, even though verbal sparring and one-upmanship is a recognized aspect of black vernacular culture that has long shaped the American mainstream. Meanwhile, perhaps the greatest rhetorician of the 19th century, Frederick Douglass, who in fact attended the White House reception after Lincoln’s second inauguration in March 1865, is nowhere to be seen or heard. " ]

[ " It is a well-known pastime of historians to quibble with Hollywood over details. Here, however, the issue is not factual accuracy but interpretive choice. A
stronger African-American presence, even at the margins of Mr. Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” would have suggested that another dynamic of emancipation was occurring just outside the frame — a world of black political debate, of civic engagement and of monumental effort for the liberation of body and spirit. "

That, too, is the history of abolition; “Lincoln” is an opportunity squandered. " ]

Kate Masur, an associate professor of history at Northwestern, is the author of An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle Over Equality in Washington, D.C.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Among Latinos There Are Also Latinas!

I've been browsing reports and studies about the side that lost this latest election and their attempts to self-examine "what did we do wrong?" -- as well as those written by the supposedlt non-biased political journalists and pundits who are also telling us with their 20/20 hind vision, "what they did wrong!"

Both give the most space to the Republican party's failure with the issue of immigration and the latino voter -- even the Florida Cuban vote went 48 - 49 % for Obama.

In this case both the party speakers and the pundits leave out entirely that the latino vote, like all the voting segments, consists of at least 50 % women. Judging by my own long voter line, in a neighborhood that isn't counted as latino in the least, there were more latino women, in each age demographic voting, than men. And we had a lot of latinas in that line. Thanks to Laura Quilter, there is data confirmation of this: It turns out that indeed there was a 12-point gender gap: 75% of Latino women voted for Obama, but only 63% of Latino men.
That's not been the case in my voting district previously in presidential elections. This might be because because we gerrymandered, er, re-districted, yet again, in order that the Republicans got a more 'fair' shake in these districts. Maybe this is another favorite part of the Republican strategy of voter repression that bit back?

I would like to add this bit, concerning the re-districting. It was done to move the vote of the expanding Chinatown from our district -- after having moved those precincts previously into our district -- because Chinatown tends to vote strongly for Dem candidates. The idea behind this latest crazy quilt meandering line of re-districting was to bring in the supposedly more conservative latino vote. But as usual, most of these people doing this can't get it through their silly little heads that latinos are a very diverse population. The latino population from 'over there' in this redistricting has a strong Dominican Republic component. They've been here by now for at least two generations. Like their neighboring Haitians -- or anyone I've ever met from the Caribbean -- their work ethic is very strong. Yes, and so are their ties to family. But as working voters -- and do these women ever work! -- these women know what is up with health care, discrimination, hatred of women, hatred of public education and all the rest of the values issues that brought their families to the U.S. in the first place. My take is the Republicans of whatever ilk do not understand or know any of this.

So this time around there were few if any Asian voters in my line -- Chinatown was devastated by Hurricane Sandy -- still, I'm sure they were voting in droves at another polling station in another district.

Something else that is entirely ignored at least in the re-examination of what went wrong I've been seeing is health care. The howling cohort yesterday include yet again 'death panels' in their chorus. Yet they seem entirely unaware that at primary rallies earlier this year those voters who were in support of the Republicans howled "Let 'em die!" when asked what should be done for people too poor to afford health care. They never noticed the endless string of lies that Romney told voters in, o say, Ohio, regarding jobs that Somebody Else was going to outsource. They've forgotten that Romney himself is the great enabler of outsourcing.

They have forgotten all this. They have forgotten Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona and those like him in many other places. They have forgotten the 100% anti-choice plank in their national campaign platform. Instead, what that end of the party is doing is crying, "Secession is the only solution now, UNFAIR!, they stole it! They are crazy! They made up the War on Women! THEY LIE, LIE, LIE -- and the MEDIA was against us."

It was a horror show of hate, this campaign -- and long before the campaign officially began. Particularly the (R) primary process.

Along with all the other events and characters in the most extreme red states like Arizona.

Evidently though, even the people who commit such acts of hatred, such as vocally, very loudly, advocating death for people who can't afford insurance premiums and hospital care, do not perceive their behaviors this way, and cannot understand why anyone objects.

They really do perceive themselves as patriots.

Extreme personality disorder seems the only explanation. Now that their hand-wringing in the two days after the election includes, "We must reach out to the latino voter," I cannot see that working. For one thing they don't know who the latino voters are -- i.e. they still don't see that they are varied lot, not a single entity. For another, they don't care, so how are you going to convince somebody about whom you know nothing, care less, and don't respect to vote for you? Particularly since you have a party united on least one thing: get women out of politics and back into the kitchen, without reproductive control of her own body ... recall how They treated Sonia Sotomayor during the confirmation process and how they still speak of her? It's never occurred to Them, even, that latinas notice such things. That's how little respect for women as human beings all These Sorts have -- no matter what color, what age, what demographic the women are 50% of. If you feel that way about half the world, that includes members of your own household, how can you reach these voting groups?

On the other hand, I fully comprehend that our POTUS is waging drone war upon large numbers of innocent people, and there is no transparency, and I want him to STOP doing that! Along with so many othe things. So we have to pressure him on that. We have so much work to do. But at least we have room within which to work, which the claustrophobic constrictions of the Other Ones, don't and would not provide

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Not Beneficial: Entire Immersion in an SF/F World View

You write rubbish.

For instance, Orson Scott Card here.

Just the lies about Sandy and Fema alone -- after all, I am living where she came and am affected, and I ought to know, right?

Ay-up, as Jon Stewart puts it: "Avalanche on Bullshit Mountain."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Outsourcers and Offshorers, Beware!

I had to retire about 10:30 PM-- so tired. But the election had been called. I didn't dare believe it. At some point later in the night el V whispered in my ear, "Obama's still won the election. You can keep dreaming." This was a reference to the nightmares I had during the bush-cheney years, of bush and cheney personally bombing my city, my childhood farm, raping and torturing me.

I am thrilled that we get to have the FLOTUS for four more years!

It was so good that the President won this one.  He earned it.  Look how loose his suit is on him.  He's skin and bones, he's worked so hard and slept so little.  May he and the FLOTUS get some private just them together time very soon.

Now it's snowing, and I must go out and get more supplies as we're no where, not even anywhere, in replenishing all the things we've lost, and what I've used up cleaning up.

Just back from outside, porting in more supplies.  The wind is getting very strong.  And this year, finally, I thought I'd gotten el V kitted up for Weather -- new coat, gloves, everything, even boots -- his African all weather, water-proof, all terrain boots.  Well, no.  He doesn't know what he did with them.  They're here, he assures me.  In the apartment.  He just has no idea where.  He is also too under deadline hell to search them out  He looks at me hopefully.  "You are so good at finding things I've lost," the look says.  But not today.

There's is no way to deny it longer.  I am sick.

It's a good thing I've got a fat biography of Jefferson Davis to read and take notes on, as well as a terrific French Revolution era historical - fantasy novel (no, not that preposterous thing just out from Fantasy publisher): The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann (2012), HarperCollins. As well netflix is sending me, finally, the English mini series made from the Victorian historical novel, The Crimson Petal and the White. Then, there's the third season of  Treme to catch up with,  hooray!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Have Never Voted This Late In the Day Before

Except in my first years in NYC when I was working in law or real estate or financial offices, and voted after work.

The lines are endless. I've never seen lines this long before -- except when we voted in the bush-Kerry election in New Orleans.  That line was so long el V went out and got lunch for us and some friends we made in the line. (New Orleans went heavily for Kerry; it didn't help.  They stole it anyway.)  I don't think today's lines in my polling station are due to voters from other parts of New York, like Staten Island, that were devastated coming in. Governor Cuomo gave his permission that voters from these destroyed regions could vote at any polling place in New York State. Ferries and buses were chartered to bring in voters from Staten Island and Long Island and Queens.

It's also the first presidential election using the new ballot scanners. The old lever machines worked just fine. Now there's three steps you have to take, not two. Or maybe it's more than that even? Stand in line, find the line for your district to stand in. Then the line for your place in the alphabet for thay district. Then sign the book, get the ballot etc. Then go to the privacy booth and fill out the ballot. Then go to the scanner to scan your filled out ballot. At least there was no line for the last two steps, the filling out of the ballot and the scanning of the ballot.  But in a lot of places there were endless lines for both, and in some places the scanner broke down, and there was only one scanner, or none.  Whew!

Nevertheless, though it seemed endless, the whole process at our polling station was about an hour, maybe an hour and quarter. Another voter suppression tactic: make the voter stand in a line for hours and hours. The guy behind me kept threatening to give it up, except his wife would give him hell.

I'm hearing reports now, via the local public radio station, that there are huge problems at a lot of polling places. We also re-districted again because the rethugs were determined. Some polling places were combined -- one merging 9 districts -- making for today's chaos. Some are without power -- so, no scanning. Some have no heat -- temp's in the 30's. The lines everywhere are long.

There is much to be said for an organized, competent Board of Elections. Which, it seems, we in NYC do not have. Mayor Billionaire repeats, dumbfounded, "I keep hearing people say voting here is like voting in a third world country." Partly that's because of the old time party boss machine politics, which we don't have now. Now we have something else, though I haven't heard any inclusive noun description of it. Corporate, maybe? As a lot of corps ordered their employees to vote for Romney, since the court declared they can do that now. Still sounds third world to me.

One of the problems is a lack of trained election workers. At my place, one of them is a new election worker. She lives upstairs from me, and she did not get enough training.

Then -- there's another storm coming in tomorrow and Thursday, with snow. There are so many people homeless and it’s likely power will go out again in some places that just got it back.
Both Mayor Billionaire, President Obama and Governor Christie are so hoarse they croak. That they are plain exhausted is obvious.President Obama has to handle and delegate all of it.  Dealing with an on-going Catastrophe non-stop will do that (and campaigning as well for the President -- I am so glad he's young; an older guy just couldn't do this). The mayor is really not liking this storm coming in. He’s trying to figure out what to do with 40,000 suddenly homeless in Manhattan alone, among other things.
One has noticed that Romney’s got no hoarseness. Imagine how he'd handle this Catastrophe?  One does not forget that neither did Bush's or Giuliani's voices suffer during the ongoing 9/11 disaster. Bush never lost any sleep over either 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fixing the Wrecking

Someone somehow got a captcha of el V's access code -- it was via his card number, not mine. It happened at two different ATMs uptown Friday night. Evidently when disasters like Sandy hit this is very common. People use the chaos as cover. We get the money back though, and that's what matters. On our way to the bank we could see how many places aren't open, and neither are the schools around here.

Some things aren't going to be straightened out so fast. Like our across the hall neighbor, who is a very good neighbor. She has mental problems which she deals with via therapy and prescription meds, which need a fair amount of adjusting throughout the year. She's had a double mastectomy. She alone in the world -- no family. She weathered the storm here all alone, and now has a breakdown. Her hospital isn't operating. She can't go outside. She’s suicidal.  She said no one checked on her all this time, and she’s starving. She was always skinny. Now she’s just bones. Am sitting down to rest the screaming back before looking for more supplies for ML. I promised to sit and have tea with her after the next round. I do think we did get back just in time. I feel awful for her, and once again am so aware of how fortunate we are. She’s having a hard time understanding that there is no milk yet to be had, or bread. Deliveries start at the supermarket tomorrow -- I checked since it is a block below our bank branch. 

Most people left our building. She wasn't able to leave this time because of various reasons, including her friends were infested with bedbugs. (OTOH, she gets these phobias about non-existant bugs and mice too, I know. This means her meds need adjusting.)

Nobody who did stay though, seems to have checked on each other, until we were able to get through to another woman who went through it alone in the building. She never contacted ML either, until then.

The storm created a medical crisis in a city already in medical crisis. There aren't enough doctors who deal with real people's problems. Hospitals had to be evacuated. Other hospitals, including the Emergency Crisis hospital, had failed generators. All the facilities downtown are damaged and mostly, on the east side, that flooded, and aren't really ready.

Beyond that, all the people who keep a hospital clean, pick up and delivery laundry and supplies, live far away and can't get in.

I am happy to report that the very fact of knocking on ML's door and asking what we could do for her this morning, has helped her enormously. She's even determined to go out and see her therapist to hand over some 'dangerous' medications that she has a prescription for -- this has to do with her suicidal feelings. But I think those have subsided enough, now that someone has demonstrated a care that she lives or dies. And somehow, today too, her therapist got in touch with her after that.

Since these days have felt at least a decade long to me who was off in lovely weather, food, friends and hot water, have left me confused and stressed -- imagine what these days must have been like for people like ML, without lights, hot water, food, transportation and all the rest. And so alone.

When I say our side of the Dark Zone was left to twist in the aftermath, I wasn't joking. Nobody thinks anyone over here needs help of any kind. We're all rich and famous. So, no, nobody checked at all.

The refrigerator-freezer are fine. This is merely a long, hard chore. The freezer’s vacuum close meant not even water dripped out of it to the refrigerator. So almonds, granola, the three lbs. of coffee I had just bought and so on are fine. Only a bit of not tightly enough sealed parmesean has a couple of spots of mold. Also I caught the building’s removal people just in time to hand over lbs. of tightly wrapped refrozen meat, vegetables and stock. And a lonely half-carton of mango sorbet, just before the building's pick-up for this stuff showed up.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

New Orleans Is Beautiful

Yesterday, a lot of it, was pretty bad. I hit that crash wall.

It had been over a week of constant teeth grinding and clenched body, running constant interference between Ned and the world, as he prepared for his gigs -- kept working the whole time, which brought in income, worked to deal with whatever we needed to deal with at home and getting back home -- without a moment to myself, unable to work out -- my back is screaming. The real problem is I'm used to a huge amount of solitude and it takes a while before I re-adjust. I.e. the problem was all in me, not with other people.

We were at the conference and the keynote speech.  I couldn't makes sense out of anything I was hearing. The chairs were cutting off my circulation and killing my back. I had to leave. So we did. Which was not cool, but I really couldn't handle it in any way, physically or nervously. I had hit that wall.

For about two hours after that I was in bad shape. Simultaneously wanted to lie down and sleep for 10 hours, while jumpy as a trapped feral cat.

We walked by the levee, had an iced cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde, walked some more, went to Jackson Square and saluted Andy Jackson and his horse, which made me laugh. I found a twenty dollar bill our first day here while walking the dog.  A Jackson in the parlence of some.  I study Jackson, the Jacksonian era, how it central to the sense of Americans' self.  Sat in the Square for a while. The buskers and hucksters had broken down for now.  It was quiet.  The setting sun made a peach glow back light to the Cabildo side of the Square.  We window shopped. And I got it back, whatever you may call it.  I think it's called equilibrium.

Then we went to the Jax Brewery and had a lovely hummous and grilled pita snack with excellent beer and a friendly bartender who discussed knowledgably beer matter with Ned.

We slowly walked through the Quarter to Frenchman among the newly arrived crop of revelers. The Quarter -- such a strange place. For so many it IS New Orleans. For so many it is a place where suddenly they are attacked by a sense that they too are Artists, bohemians, that they can sit in a bar in the middle of the afternoon, hearing classic New Orleans musics, writing in a notebook, and they too will live the life of Tennessee Williams or Dr. John. For two or three days they can play this idea of a different self and an alternate life in a safe space. What happens in the Quarter stays there. Nobody knows.

But for some, they get bitten so badly they either come back to New Orleans for good, or they never leave at all. For better or worse. And for some indeed, it is for better. They find the life they want in this city, which is crackling and sizzling with  young vitality and energy in every direction: entrepreneurial, artistic, musical, social, environmental, intellectual, you name it, it is happening here, a wild collision of talents and dreams.

Then on to Royal. Stopped at a place to rest my back called the R Bar. It was dark, very dark in the classic manner of a local New Orleans bar - dive. Youngish females were dressed as los muertos, flowing veils, flowers in hair: it was the second day of el Día de los Muertos, All Souls Day, of course! But it was early and quite quiet, the music an acceptable melange and no television tuned to sports. Where, the bartender handed us a complimentary bowl of the most excellent Jumbalaya. For the first time in over a week I pulled out my notebook.  I was able to write about something that wasn't the Un-named. It was the first time I'd a coherent thought that wasn't related to the Un-named.

I wanted to make a note of two things I'd been seeing frequently since here.  One was the groups of young women, dressed up, one member with a bridal-like veil braided into her hair.  Perhaps these are the Wedding Party women on the Bride's Night out?  The second was how often I saw young women wearing a surgical foot boot.  I've been noticing this in NYC since the summer too.  Is this from falling off the ridiculous shoes that have three inch platform soles and six inch stiletto heels?

We chatted over dogs and beer with some of the usual suspects of the R Bar, there on Royal. It came out we were evacuees. The hugs from our sisters and brothers! Another local arrived at that moment, and he goes: "You've met these people before, or at least you've seen them a lot, though not for the last year or so, you know, in the Bywater." Wow. That's where one of our usual NO hosts lives (having put up another friend who is homeless this year, there wasn't room for us this time), that's where Marky's bar is located (where we are meeting whoever feels in the mood to show up tonight, our last in New Orleans for the present -- el V, at least, will probably return in December), and close to the Piety Street recording studio.

New Orleanians have great eyes for you. Tourists, you may wish to keep this in mind!

On Frenchman  we chatted with the bookstore there on the corner of the block where dba is.  He carries The Books.  With him was a friend who lives mostly in NY, but was visiting.  "I just hang out back of the register here and pretend I'm working when I visit." He'd just finished reading The Year Before the Flood -- and called me by name.  That was the fourth person who did that yesterday.  The others made my nerves jangle, but this guy didn't, for some reason.

It was my first visit to Frenchman since Coco Robicheaux left us, or as they say in the Kongo spiritual belief system, "Gone on vacation." Eyes will mist up.  For no reason we stopped and had beer in dba, and just talked and looked and listened for an hour.  Despite this being the Society of Ethnomusicologist and American Musicologists Society conference, and there were thousands gathered for it, and it is New Orleans, we didn't see a single SEM / AMS attendee anywhere. We did encounter a few New Orleans peeps though.

We called a cab, the driver of which is from Morocco.  We had a fascinating conversation with him on the way back to Robert Street.  He loves New Orleans, particularly the people, the food and the music.  He loves the diversity, he loves the tolerance, but he thinks the people on Bourbon Street go way too far. Halloween night, he said, there were people entirely naked.  He went home, because he didn't want to drive them, most particularly because he didn't want to have to see them.

We sat with Hostess on her porch and chatted, looked at the still huge moon that had risen. Beautiful.

So far today, we've had brunch with our hostess on her lovely, huge, screened-in front porch, in a butterfly-dancing noontime, blue sky and gold sunshine.

Doing laundry now, getting ready to visit a Haitian houngan tomorrow morning, before heading to Louis Armstrong and home.

Friday, November 2, 2012

ConEd Sent Us An E-Mail

Just got home from the conference and then hanging with friends on Frenchman.

E-mail from ConEd telling us our power has been restored.

So hopefully our neighbors in our building will be warmer tonight.

Now, do we have internet?

We're never satisfied.

This is seems to be where Mayor Billionaire is different from Romney. He heard the 99%, and canceled the Marathon, which we've also just learned. Starting that f*cker on Staten Island, which is devastated was the worst thing he could have done. And that was just for starters. People hated him for putting up these two giant generators in Central Park to minister to the Marathon, while the rest of us don't have hot water or lights. That was the move of a mayor who sees his city as a theme park for tourists not as a city that functions as a place where people live and work.

In the meantime, just like in New Orleans, the tourists are starting to tour the Dead Zone and Staten Island and New Jersey.

You can see why everybody here in New Orleawns understands everything.

Wherever I go, any little local bar, I am greeted as a sister. And then, invariably, somebody says: hey, wait -- I know you (meaning mostly Ned) -- I've talked to you a lot, in the Bywater. Haven't seen you for a while this last year. Welcome back!"

But then, that's why we are here.

And Ned never stopped working the whole time, until tonight.

Gods, I'm lovin' on New Orleans tonight. And it is gorgeous tonight, o so gorgeous.

Got to Speak With Some of Our Neighbors

No basement flooding, no windows out.

Just waiting for the power to come back. They are very cold because the thermostat that turns on and off the furnace and sets the temps is electric.

Power supposed to be back by 11 PM tomorrow.

Now we're trying to figure out how to deal with getting food.

Though my first big job will be emptying and cleaning the refrigerator.

In the meantime Mayor Billionaire seems to have gotten bit by the Romney 1% Clueless Bug: he's running the NYC Marathon on Sunday, handing out water and food, pulling cops out of elsewhere, and generating tons of trash. While big parts of his city are without food and water, need the cops and have loads of wind and storm trash.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

&^^%$$#@@!$$$$$$ Bloomberg!!!!!!

Slagging off President Obama and the Head of FEMA -- "Go to New Jersey and represent the nation."

The humanitarian crisis in Chinatown is desperate.  And getting so everywhere in the Dark Zone.  I knew Ned shouldn't have booked those tickets home for Sunday.

e-mails are beginning to trickle in -- and it's awful, and getting worse, but nobody is bothering with us at all.

New Orleans knows all about a mayor who isn't helping.

Everyone is furious with the NY Times and other so-called news media, and particularly WNYC radio and Bloomberg -- who are both politicians and media.

Home Again?

I got e-mail from the New York Public Library, updating as to what is going on with its online catalog and digital resources, the branches and the research facilities, what is open and available, and what is not (digital and online most not available), but branches uptown generally open, in my neighborhood, definitely not. Still it warmed my heart to have e-mail and news from my intellectual home.

For better or worse, we’ve booked tickets on Delta to LaGuardia on Sunday at 2 PM. I am hoping so hard the power is back on in our part by then. (The prices for the seats -- yikes! JetBlue would have charged us $1200.) We’re starting to see e-mails from people on our block and around our area who evacuated to uptown Manhattan or Brooklyn. They’re asking us, who are in New Orleans, if we know anything about our home area – since we’re always the people with information. This is all we got: The boyfriend of the daughter of a friend of ours drove by our building yesterday, and says from the street it looks fine.

This is what the media's got: Aquagrill, a single veddy upscale restaurant re-opened on Spring and Ave of the Americas, with a generator they rented for thousands a day, they say. People are heartbroken that they didn't get to wear their Halloween costumes and that so many Halloween parties were canceled. The fashion and style section of the NY Times checked in with a breezy piece about how well all those very wealthy bold face names in SoHo and Tribeca are faring – a vacation, doncha know, from their very important and stressful lives! So much fun! With our private generators!

And now I see this:

Nothing is going on downtown for help and assistance as far as we can learn.  NOTHING.  No food coming in, no water.  NOTHING.  Kinda 9/11 all over again, except without the military.  I learn more from the UK Guardian than I do from the NY Times. WNYC, despite being located in my part of the city, is deaf and dumb about us, except for the very wealthy and connected.

Not funny: when I open the tag box for my blog(s) now, and start the tag with 'hurricane' the auto complete provides me with a whole list of hurricanes about which I've dealt with, with deep personal concern, starting with Katrina.

From Da List:

[ ...  24 people are now counted dead from the storm in new york city, and 600,000 still without power in nyc as of this morning.
i still haven't heard from most of my people downtown, and nobody in my building. my nabe is mostly absent from news reports.

it's clear that FEMA is not performing in lower manhattan. i keep hearing about their total lack of visibility downtown. there seems to be a perception that lower manhattan is the home of wealthy boldface names who can take care of themselves. that is certainly true, but there are a lot of poor people as well -- especially on the east side, by where the con ed station blew and where some serious flooding occurred. there's no question that a lot of people are having a hard time.

according to governor cuomo's tweets, they're getting ready to distribute food and water in manhattan, though he doesn't say where. i guess it's supposed to be a mystery.

meanwhile, i keep waiting for the great journalism, and i haven't seen it. if i see one more picture of that goddamn crane . . . ]