". . . 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

Monday, November 30, 2015

SiriusXm Radio Insight - "Tell Me Everything"

For those who pay little or no attention to radio (which sells more books than other coverage),  Sirius Xm is a paid subscriber satellite radio network, offering an enormous amount and variety of programming. It's very popular among truckers and others who travel in a vehicle all day. Some of its channels are available 'gratis' in some airlines' entertainment networks, as with JetBlue.

"Tell Me Everything" -- Sirius Insight was fun, if such a word can be paired with such a subject as slavery. 

John Fugelsang, his producer and his team, were very well prepared. Unlike poorWBAI (who was equally prepared, though she focused on different things), Sirius has money, so the whole operation is as a slick and contempo as one would expect of an organization in Rockefeller Center, which is where SiriusXm Radio is located. When one gets to Reception, as soon as we are logged in and our badges / key cards issued, a very large screen announces: 

SiriusXm Radio 

The screen rotates all the guests's names who are up there, presenting live. 

The producer says he's taking a photo of our names and sending them to our publicist so she can send them to us. That will be a cool souvenir of the experience. 

Due to the money, here were nice microphones, a lovely studio. But there was also a relaxed though, passionate about surely all their subjects, and very professional atmosphere -- and, most of all, terrific prep and comprehension. 

The young, white, male engineer was directly in my line of sight. His face registered expressions of astonishment and disgust and shock at what he was hearing. Even the producer at times reacted that way, and presumably he was the one who brought the book (via Publisher's Publicist) to John's attention. And we didn't describe anything graphically -- which we don't mostly in the book either, unless we're quoting an eye-witness.

John (the host) told us afterword that his father had been an American history teacher, so he takes slavery and related issues seriously, but TASC informed him of so much. 

We have JT, an old friend from the Lone Star days, up at Sirius who does the country - western etc. shows. So we stopped after, and hung out with him for a while, catching up. Ned's been up there with him a fair amount, doing shows with Dave Marsh (who, I believe has his own show on Sirius), and with Willie Nelson. 

Behind the red Christmas ornaments is the building, 2115 Rockefeller Center, where SiriusXm Radio is located.  The annual (83rd) Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree lighting will be Dec. 2, Wednesday.

A Henri Bendell Window
Since I was going to be in Midtown anyway, I'd thought after the interview I'd walk around and look at the, honestly, spectacular Christmas decorations in the department stores like Lord & Taylor, the plazas and so on. But I used the time I'd marked out for that hanging out with JT instead. Hey, friends and catch-up always take priority. 


One of the brilliant things about doing these events, radio, etc., is what we learn. One of the things I've learned, which is a sad fact, that many well-informed people have imbibed the Glorious Lost Cause lie that President John Adams owned slaves.  He -- and particularly Abigail -- were always anti-slavery, though not necessarily abolitionist, at least not in their earlier years.  Abigail did employ a black family among the other labor on the farm she ran, managed and worked on with her own back and hands while John was absent so much and for years at a time in Europe or elsewhere.  The key word here is employ.  These were free people of color, with their own home and their own family.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Faerie Magazine

Reminds one of ye olde Fantasy Magazine, doesn't it?
Faerie Magazine is a lifestyle magazine, for people who love fairies.  It ranks #19 among the 157 lifestyle magazines sold at B&Noble.

Magazines as material creations have mostly fallen off my radar, other than Downbeat, the Lincoln Center Theater ReviewBomb and some others that el V writes for on occasions, and which send him their issues every month or quarterly, depending on what the pub schedule is. So Faerie Magazine is all news to me.  It was established in 2005, pointed toward the Renaissance Faire goers and vendors' market.

Faerie Magazine is published on a quarterly schedule.  One may sign up for a weekly newsletter, filled with offers of diaphanous products and other otherworldly objects.  I am dazzled and enchanted, at least for an ephemeral, crepuscular moment.

Monday, November 23, 2015

For ME, Tomorrow Is The Big Day

 Lenny Lopate Show, tomorrow, at 1:25 PM tomrrow.

Can be listened to streaming live.

Tomorrow the site will all look different than it does today, long long long before midnight, when it all turns over for the next day, i.e. tomorrow.

For me this is a VERY BIG DEAL!

Starting with LL's interview of Edward Ball about Slaves in the Family 1998) that verified that what I was doing with the Della stories was right.  Because I was told by the male history experts that I was all wrong.  So much so, I doubted myself.Which meant digging ever deeper into U.S. history, which showed me that far from being wrong, slavery was central to U.S. history from the earliest colonial era to present.

Katherine Kerr provide me the first opportunity to explore these matters of slavery -- and the transmission of cultures and spiritual paths to sustain individuals, families an communities in slavery -- in the United State with an invitation to submit a story for her anthology, The Shiimmering Door -- 1996).  As my stories continued, mansplainers of sf/f told me the stories were charming but were historically all wrong because I didn't understand basic facts of American history, particularly the fact, "My dear, the Civil War wasn't about slavery."

More lately the same mansplainers are informing everyone that the Civil War was about slavery, doncha know.

Which has a lot to do with why I spent 5 + years of my life working to make The American Slave Coast.  Whenever anyone sneers that the Civil War -- or as we prefer to refer to that southern unpleasantness -- as the U.S. Revolution -- now I have something to point to which refutes every gddmned bs argument one wants to make, in one (yes, big, covering 350 years) volume.  Or, as Mama Jennifer of the New Orleans Community Book Center down there instructs, "Throw that book at em!"

We meet Edward Ball at Tulane before our thing with Gwen Tompkins, and he says he can't stay coz he's got a thing, but he stayed all the way because he couldn't tear himself away, and BOUGHT copies!  He's here right now as a NYPL Cullman Fellow (which el V was one of back in the day), so we can all hook up, which we are doing.

This Lenny Lopate thing -- Edward Ball thing -- isn't the same thing for el V that it is for me. For me, this is HUGE.

By the way, what thrills me most of all -- The American Slave Coast is in the NYPL system, including the e-book version!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Completed:The American Slave Coast Book Tour

Last night's co-sponsored Harriet Beecher Stowe House Center and Real Art Ways' event was the final travel in a 7 week tour in support of The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry.  The rest of this week and the first 4 days of next week are all media, some local, such as "The Lenny Lopate Show" on WNYC,  noon - 2 PM (we're on the 1:25 PM segment), others done by phone.  Then it's Thanksgiving and we're into the holidays.

El V wanted us to celebrate doing all this -- and (sort of) surviving . We both picked up small colds by the end, and he's doing three events today: a radio interview, doing a music rehearsal and playing some of his music on a local television program.  We should have a glass of champagne to celebrate, he thought, once we got back home. But it was too late.  Everything was closed. Just as well, probably, as for the first time in our many years together, last night on that long journey to and from Hartford we finally seemed to  run out of things to talk about. Recall, we've been together non-stop for 7 whole weeks.  Many hours we've spent sitting next to each other in The Car, talking to no one but each other.  That's going to take a while to fill up again, though el V is convinced it's merely exhaustion and once we've had a few days to sleep-sleep-sleep and not run around, suiting up and putting on game faces, we'll be talking with each other as enthusiastically as we always have.

For me, right now, what matters is that I don't have to pack a suitcase or unpack a suitcase again until December 31, when we fly to Miami, and Havana on January 1st.  I cannot express how glad of this I am -- even though we'll be going out again in February and in the spring in support.  I get 4 weeks of staying home.

Whew!  What a ride this has been.  Every event was special. They were all special in different ways.  There was such a range -- one night we're speaking with people for whom buying a book isn't only budget strainer, but a budget breaker, then the next week we're speaking with some of the most wealthy people on the planet -- not exaggerating here.  We say the same things, and people respond the same way.  These are self-selected groups, whether an African American Studies / American History graduate student/professors/directors or people who congregate at their local Community Bookstore Ctr. in the poorest part of New Orleans.  So that people all understood and reacted so positively shouldn't, perhaps, be surprising.  Racists, white supremacists and right wing extremists aren't going to come out to hear about a book like The American Slave Coast.

We're in a state of exhaustion right now so deep I have lost track of the days.  I thought yesterday was Thursday and today is Friday.  The weather's changed. So have the seasons, and it seems there are these things called Thanksgiving and Chirstmas looming -- what? when did all that happen while we traveled up and down the Atlantic Coast, to the Gulf, to Houston?

Also, I wake up in the night and have no idea where I am.  Last night I couldn't figure out where my bed was in relationship to the bathroom.

I can't wait to get back to my workouts to audio books -- books that aren't mine! That I don't have to talk about!  I don't have to talk at all!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

From Da List - Schedule - The Voice of Ned

The Voice of Ned:

Here's our schedule for the next couple of weeks. To the many [nedslisters] in New Orleans: I hope you'll show up at one of our events and say hi.

Nov. 9 Freeman Auditorium, Tulane University, New Orleans, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 10 Community Book Center, New Orleans, 6 p.m.
Nov. 11 SciTech Academy, 820 Jackson Avenue, New Orleans, 4:45 p.m. 
Nov. 12 Octavia Books, New Orleans, 6 p.m.
Nov. 14 Brazos Bookstore, Houston, 7 p.m. (party after at Under the Volcano)
Nov. 17 Bloomfield College, Bloomfield NJ, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 18 Real Art Ways, Hartford CT, 7 p.m. 
and, just added:
Nov. 24 
The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC, 1:30 p.m. 

More media to come. We expect to continue doing author events through the spring -- if you have a critical mass of people that you want us to talk to in '16, let me know.
The American Slave Coast is going into a second printing to keep up with expected year-end demand. It's still #1 on African American history at Amazon. We were reviewed in the Guardian this week -- the pull quote:

"the Sublettes offer an economic history and theory of slavery that is blunt in its assessment, unassailable in its argument and accessible to a general reader." 

The book tour continues to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. One of the things I've always loved about touring is the way you get a synchronous snapshot of what's going on in a larger circuit. As we connect with readers, scholars, teachers, students, and radio listeners, we hear the dialogue that's going on.People are engaged and thoughtful everywhere we go. It's a profound learning experience for us. 

Last week we were in Richmond VA, Chestertown MD, and George Mason University in Fairfax VA [voice of C here -- el V rocked the house for 90 minutes, free-styling the contrast and history of slavery in Virginia and Cuba -- nobody left the standing room only space, except a couple of students and professors who had to get to their classes.] All of them were stimulating. To present in Chestertown was particularly meaningful for us, since without our residency there in 2010-11 the book would never have gotten off the ground. We  feel quite attached to the town. I'm especially pleased to say that the community showed up for our event, the stock of books on hand sold out, and we had a beautiful and moving reception afterward at Sumner Hall, more fully known as the Charles Sumner Post #25 of the Grand Army of the Republic, which reopened in June 2014.  

From the Kent County Arts Council webpage:
The Charles Sumner Post of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), also known as Centennial Hall, was built in 1908 by African American veterans of the Civil War and served as a gathering place for veterans of the U.S. Colored Troops. It was named in honor of the famous Massachusetts antislavery senator. It served as the center of African-American community life for 60 years. It is the only building of its kind in the state of Maryland, and one of only two such monuments left standing in the United States. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The UK Guardian - Review of The American Slave Coast

The American Slave Coast  is included in the 11/3/15 books roundup “The books that prove black lives have always mattered in America” in The Guardian.

In the meantime, getting over the Bay Bridge, the bridge to Kent Island, and to the other side of Maryland, the Eastern Shore, birth place of among so many others, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman -- then moving on toward the Chester River Bridge into Chestertown, all the fields and pastures, farms and small towns, the sleek animals and shiny machinery, the blazing foliage -- in the most perfect light possible to illuminate the glory that is autumn in Kent County -- it's even more beautiful than I remembered. But this was an extraordinary day, everyone here agrees.

Tonight was wonderful, with a table of old local friends.  Yeah, they are old friends by now -- starting to go on six years. It was here, with them, that that The American Slave Coast began, in the fall of 2010.

Tomorrow is going to be just as good, if not better.

Hello From Richmond, VA, On the Way to Chestertown, MD

Or -- a correction to the NYTimes.

It’s the birthday of Stephen F. Austin, who worked to settle Anglo-American families in Mexican Texas and who in 1836 became the In today's New York Times morning briefing, we read:

" ... founder of the Republic of Texas, which lasted nine years."

It could have as easily read:

>It’s the birthday of Stephen F. Austin, who brought slavery to Texas.

To quote from, yes, The American Slave Coast:

"Mexico after its independence in 1821 prohibited slavery, but the territory was only sparsely settled; hoping to populate it, the Mexican government invited in settlers from the United States, giving them land. But once the settlers moved in, they declared it theirs. Moses Austin, who had become one of the country’s major producers of lead, was a major promoter of the Texas colonization movement. With his eyes on Mexico’s lead mines, Austin had sworn allegiance to the Spanish crown in 1798. His son, the Virginia-born, Missouri-raised land speculator Stephen F. Austin, brought slavery to Texas and fought to keep it.

It was an article of faith throughout the South that American slavery must expand into Texas and beyond. There was no question that Texas would be an ultimate destination for young African Americans who were being born and raised all over the cotton kingdom. Stephen Austin wrote his sister Emily from New Orleans in August 1835, the summer of the Southern abolition panic: “It is very evident that Texas should be effectually, and fully, Americanized . . . Texas must be a slave country. It is no longer a matter of doubt. The interest of Louisiana requires that it should be. A population of fanatical abolitionists in Texas would have a very dangerous and pernicious influence on the overgrown slave population of [Louisiana].” 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Blogged By Daughter Number Three + Richmond, Chestertown, George Mason University & NYU

Did everyone survive Halloween, which is now the year's biggest commercial merchandising holiday, except for Christmas, which goes on much longer than Halloween?  As this is a city of apartment buildings., parents have taken to bringing in their kids to our part of town to shakedown t&t the local restaurants and businesses like the delis, pizza joints, hair salons and even the liquor stores.

I got in everything we needed for dinner by the middle of the afternoon, and having met P for a single martini in the Bistro to celebrate arrival of replacement passport proving I am me again, retired to our apartment and made ravioli. We never went out again.

Watched a bit of the Frank Sinatra / Rat Pack 1958 flick, Some Came Running, adapted from a bit of the enormous James Jones novel by the same name published in 1957 -- perhaps my favorite silly movie about writing and novelists.

However, we soon retired to our lovely bed and read a bit of Bound for the Promised Land:  Harriet Tubman Portrait of an American Hero*(2004) by Kate Clifford Larson.  We were asleep by 10:30.  That's all we really want to do these days is sleep.  We never seem to get enough of it.

Not only is it Sunday, the first day of November, it is the end of Daylight Savings this year, and here is, not only the Sunday morning after the debauchery of Halloween Saturday night, but the running of the annual New York Marathon.

Fountain Bookstore owner since 2008, Kelly Justice
managed the store since 2000.  The store was est. 1978.
More locally, today we prepare to leave town at 6 AM tomorrow and drive to Richmond, where we do Fountain Bookstore at 6:30 PM.  Address, photos etc. can be seen on Fountain Bookstore's website here.

One may wonder if such a long drive to Richmond is worth it, but it is, in ways one cannot know -- as, for instance this "Daughter Number Three" Blogger entry that went up on Oct. 26th by no one we know, describing el V's 11th of October presentation and The American Slave Coast on "Melissa Harris Perry."  What's interesting to me particularly about the woman's entry is her profile says she too grew up on a farm, and now lives in Minneapolis. Her profiles includes sf/f among her interests, with Octavia Butler as a favorite.. -- i.e. someone quite like me.  The "Daughter Number Three" Blogger entry can be seen here.

Tuesday then, we drive from Richmond to Chestertown, where, once we arrive we do two radio program phoners from the Starr Center (where, while in residence as Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, the first part of The American Slave Coast was drafted 2005-2006) ), one of the programs with Baltimore Public

WYPR's Sheilah Kast, Host of "Midday."
Radio WYPR's "Midday," hosted by Sheilah Kast.

The Washington College
presentation by the Starr Center of The American Slave Coast is Wednesday evening.

Early Thursday we drive to Fairfax (a D.C. outlier) and George Mason University, where we do Slave Coast in the AM, and Ned does Cuba in the afternoon, and then drive back to NYC.

Cuban-Angolan platoon attached to 11th Tactical Group, 10th Tank Brigade, Cabinda, Angola, under command of Lt. Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, 1989-90. Cuban troops were instrumental to Angola's fight of liberation and resistence to South Africa's apartheid intervention.
Friday el V is doing an all-day symposium on Cuba and Angola at NYU.

The following Monday we fly to New Orleans for a whirlwind of parties, bookstore signings, and events at Tulane, then to Houston on Friday for more of the same.


*   Very, very young el V, still living in Louisiana at the time Some Came Running came out, and obsessed with both television and movies (unlike now, when he actively dislikes almost all movies and television) was inspired by the movie to compose one of his very first song, lyrics and melody.  We sang it at the start of the first time we watched it together years ago at the Film Forum (though we did so very quietly as to not disturb the rest of the audience.  NYers take watching films in places like the Film Forum very seriously.

* *  As must be expected with a study of Harriet Tubman, Larson provides deeply researched and sourced documentation of the Underground Railroad operation. This is something fiction writers should do too, but so seldom do it seems from the proof of utterly incorrect imagined underground railroads -- which most certainly did not operate outside the border states. Novelists seem to get the underground railroad about as right as Hollywood gets writers.

 Something else of which fiction writers tend to be ignorant is that far fewer enslaved African Americans escaped from the vast prison camp that was the antebellum south than self-emancipated and free people of color were kidnapped from the north and sold down south -- despite the constant howling of slave owners that they were in eminent danger of losing all their property to those EviLe northern abolitionist agitator thieves.  Because of course no enslaved person would ever think of changing their status on their own, and all people of color could only be truly happy by serving a master / mistress.  These facts are in the Bible, you know.