". . . 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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Checking In From the Blue Ridge Mountains -- Staunton, VA

Stopped off here to see an old friend* (from Lincoln Ctr.'s sponsorship of Rhys Chattham's hundreds guitars piece, for which El V was one of the diredtors), and visit the Woodrow Wilson Pres. Library.

Wilson is the POTUS who officially instituted federal apartheid for any federal work was born here, though early  his life his Slavery rahrahah Secession minister father moved them to Georgia . . . .

So many places and people, so much history, in so few days.

In the meantime, there's this from Publisher's Publicist:
The American Slave Coast (9781613748206) was referenced and quoted from in an article by Malcolm Harris posted to The New Republic on 4/27/16.


*  This friend, met while he volunteered and spent some weeks in NYC to rehearse the piece (in el Vs section) also creates the acoustic spectrum tracking hardware and software of planets and stars for the great astronomical telescopes such as Hubble. He love music and particularly guitars.  He also repaired el V's dead vacuum tubes for his classic Fender amp.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Columbus plus Slave Coast plus Cuba

Columbus, Georgia is interesting, past and present! I could easily spend lots of time here. It's a good place to live.

This city on the border of Alabama, where the last battle of the Civil War was fought -- after the surrender at Appomattox -- is a wealthy city and always has been.

The Chattahoochie River
 The Chattahoochee River runs all the way down to the Gulf up from high up in the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains. The river's fall line is here at Columbus.  Thus, with this outlet to the Gulf, the spot was a natural place to establish a market city for the receiving of goods, including slaves for sale, and for sending cotton to market.  The river made dams easy to construct for cotton and textile mills and other industry powered by steam.  As a fair economic anomaly in the antebellum states with manufacture and business, African Americans, slave and many free, were skilled artisans who worked in various industries, not in the cotton fields.  At the outset of the War of Southern Conquest Columbus was one of the few industrial centers in the confederacy. It's mills and factories provided uniforms for the army (never anywhere close to enough), boilers and other iron work for the ships, including the iron clads, and the Slidell ships that preyed on Union mercantile shipping.

Typical Chattahoochie River activity these days.
After the war the city's economy recovered very quickly, and now there's container ship loads of wealth washing about Columbus from Coca Cola (the family who sold it to the Atlanta owners still retain very lucrative interest in the business), Aflac auto insurance (this city is all about servicing automobiles) and the processing of credit card transactions.  However, many of these private very wealthy individuals eagerly and generously give money to the university and many other productive institutions and projects for Columbus -- which makes this a pleasant place to live.

The River Walk below the arts campus of Georgia State University in Columbus. The Dillingham Bridge (1910 - 19120 connects Columbus, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama.  The engineer of the Bridge was African American.  The bridge's location is part of the site of the last Civil War battle.
Even the weather at the moment is more than pleasant: currently it is hot in the day and sunny, balmy at / after sunset. (In NYC it's miserable, chilly and raining. Gonna be like that there through the weekend. However, in another week or so, it's going to be brutally hot here, so there's that.)

The Slave Coast event today was held one campus -- there are at least two campuses, within walking distance of each other. Working here has to be great, and being a student as well. Due to the wealthy people mentioned above, and hte very many scholarships and programs they fund, there is a large diversity of students and programs.  They are very strong in both the technologies and the arts, both of which are very well-funded.

We were slotted into the main humanities Schwob Library. The presentation was was well attended, by people from the community, faculty and their students, heads of various areas of the library and the history dept. and some friends drove over from Atlanta to hear us.  The event concluded with interesting and smart questions, and a great deal of commentary about the capitalist system, which demanded the shredding historically of the black family, preventing any aggregation generationally of resources, wealth and influence, in contrast with the owners of the black families. The white family networks continued to inter-marry with each other in the southern and northern branches, getting richer, better connected and more powerful in every generation.  This means that whenever an individual family member had difficulties there was a large safety network to hold that person up (which allowed for southern families in these networks to re-establish their positions quickly after the War of Southern Aggression concluded).  Black families did not have this.

We would have participated ourselves more in the discussion if we'd gotten any sleep over the last three nights.

After being taken to lunch we were given a guided tour of the city's history past and present, and the university's history (founded in 1958), past and present.

Less positively, the Georgia governor is about to sign into law the right to open carry on Georgia campuses. Not in fraternities, gyms, housing or anywhere else except -- the libraries and research facilities and classrooms.

The state as a whole didn't want this, but the NRA swooped in with freight loads of money and sponsored 'their' guys in the legislature and got it. 19 states now, where the NRA has done this.

Tonight's going to be an early one thank goodness, as we excused ourselves early from dinner.  We've eaten all too well and too much over the last three days -- southern food and southern company is irresistible, but we had to leave.

We were planning to take a leisurely, winding route back home, but it turns out we have to get back home as soon as possible since Ned's going to Cuba again for 8 days, early on the 3rd, and things have come up over night re TASC, including a request to be interviewed for a new ESPN program featuring -- get this! us!? -- sports -- race and culture, debuting May 17th. The hostess of this new program wants to interview us about Slave Coast issues in connection with the reboot of Alex Haley's Roots, which premieres on the History Channel May 30. She wants to do this interview asap.

We're spending tomorrow night in Athens, as tomorrow we're being hosted for lunch by this fellow: scroll down to "Charles Peters" . . . and having dinner with an anthropologist at the university who has been doing a lot of work with the Georgia ring shout groups.

This means we can't be get home until later, on Friday night. Laundry and other preps for Cuba where Himself's running a conference on Cuban music and it's future and influence in the world at large must be raced through between Sat. - Mon.

Also, I have to watch the whole reboot of Roots by Monday.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Depictions of Slavery and Slaves on Southern Bank Notes and Other Financial Instruments

Stories are all over the "news" media, featuring this history of depicting slaves and slavery on financial instruments issued by southern banks and insurance companies, and then on the so-called currency of the so-called CSA are everywhere now that it was officially announced that Harriet Tubman will take the place of Jackson on the U.S. $20 bill.

Issued by a JoJaw, bank.
There's a great deal of coverage of this matter in The American Slave Coast:  A History of the Slave Breeding Industry, as well as about how Jackson hated currency, hated banks and therefore, managed an excellent job of destroying both -- as well as the national economy.  Killing the Bank of the United States of America, and replacing it with the "pet banks" that printed notes but had no other backing than land fever inflation set off the longest, deepest economic depression the nation ever saw, up to the Great Depression of the 1930's.

What none of the stories mention, however, which is what The American Slave Coast describes in detail, is that slaves literally were antebellum southern states' money -- which was underlined by the CSA putting slaves on its money -- at least on the front; very quickly the CSA 'treasury' couldn't even print anything on the reverse of the bills.  Since slaves weren't money for any other nation, this had a lot to do with why no European nation would support the idea of the CSA as a nation -- which it wasn't.  It was an army, but it wasn't a nation and performed none of the other duties and obligations toward its people that a nation to be a nation must do.

Tomorrow, early in the AM, we're off to Georgia, to do some Slave Coast events and other things.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince -1958 - 2016

We were just talking of the Minneapolis musician who changed his name so much, whose music I've always liked and el Vaquero never has -- one of the not so many places where our tastes don't coincide.  We were talking of him with Ye Editor who is in town for today and took us to lunch.  Ye Editor also likes Prince's music.

We all went separate directions after lunch, with separate destinations.  I didn't even quite get to our door after my errands when ye phone demanded my attention.  It was Himself, with the news that Prince had died.

So far the cause of death has not been announced.

Supposedly he had been sick with something flu-like for some weeks. This AM he was found unconscious in his home music studio's elevator.  He was only 57.

He was a studio rat, and that's a very unhealthy lifestyle. but -- WTF!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Disney's New Live Action - CGI Jungle Book

The live action Disney Jungle Book IMAX reboot opens this weekend.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Polish Arab Studs In International Scandal

     Horses have historically been central to Poland's pride, honor and culture -- as well as defense.

Lately Poland's government decided to interfere with the management of these ancient stud farms. Why is this global news? an international scandal?  Because the Polish Arab breeding studs have been supplying and augmenting the Arab breed's pedigrees for generations of the international Arab breeding class.  And now the breeding stock is imperiled.  This particular malfeasance that affects the rich pits the globally rich and famous against Poland's governing class, many of whom are also very wealthy.

  Post Card: Janow Podlaski Arabian Stud Horses, Polish Tourism Promotion Poster
During the cold war, the stud discreetly supplied the world’s elite from behind the Iron Curtain, providing a valuable source of hard currency to the communist regime.
The Arabian is considered one of the oldest horse breeds in the world and has been recognised on 4,000-year-old rock paintings. The qualities of Arabian horses – endurance, grace and speed – mean their bloodlines are found in most modern breeds of riding horse. They arrived in Poland in the 16th and 17th centuries as war spoils from battles with the Ottoman empire.

 Horses play in Poland’s state-owned Janów Podlaski stud farm. The stud is famous for its world-class Arabian horses but its director was recently sacked. Photograph: Janek Skarżyński/AFP/Getty Images

Among those profoundly affected by the mismanagement instituted by the Polish government's changes to to the personnel running the stud farms is the wife of Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts, Shirley Watts:

     The British horse breeder Shirley Watts, who runs a stud in Devon with her husband, Charlie, the Rolling Stones drummer, is threatening to sue Polish government officials after the death of two valuable Arabian mares she owned at a state-run stud in eastern Poland.
Poland’s agriculture minister, Krzysztof Jurgiel, is already facing the ire of the tiny but highly influential Arabian horse breeding world after he sacked three respected state-employed breeding specialists.

The two 16-year-old horses, Amra and Preria, died while in the care of Poland’s prestigious Janów Podlaski stud, to which Watts had loaned four mares in a cashless arrangement to help expand a valuable Arabian bloodline. Her two surviving mares, which are pregnant, were being transported home from eastern Poland to Halsdon stud with urgency.

Poland's government seriously effed-up.  Keep politicians -- particularly male politicians -- out of reproductive processes!

     She [Anna Stojanowska, Poland's national horse breeding inspector] said: “Poland’s reputation for breeding was hard built, by people with passion who never watched the clock. Trela has been replaced by an economist, Marek Skomorowski, who says horses are his hobby. Once we lose our reputation, that’s it, forever. It happened to Russia’s studs and it may now happen to ours.”

Warsaw-based Stojanowska said the sackings had been “part of political games” by the Law & Justice government, which won the October 2015 parliamentary election pledging to institute “dobra zmiana” – good change – in state enterprises where central government is perceived as having lost control. The policy has already led to dozens of sackings and resignations from state companies including a major regional insurer, PZU, the main electricity and gas utility companies and the mining conglomerate KGHM.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How Not To Describe Fiction Set in Africa

From the UK Guardian, by Ainehi Edoro, "How Not To Talk About African Fiction, " here.

    This is the opening, which, as it should, informs the reader of the theme and the subject of this opinion piece:
The history of modern African fiction is essentially 100 years of branding disaster. In marketing African fiction, the conventional practice among publishers both in Africa and the west has been to simply tag a novel to a social issue. “Such and such a novel explores colonialism.” Done. “So and so offers a searing representation of the scourge of misogyny.” Done. “Corruption takes center stage in so and so’s novel.” Done.
      African fiction is packaged and circulated, bought and sold not on the basis of its aesthetic value but of its thematic preoccupation.
Film (2013) included such high profile actors as Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton

Ainehi Edoro's chose as one of her examples of how differently fiction written out of African imaginations and experiences are described on amazilla.  The two novels  are David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas 2004), and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun (2006).   Both books have been made into films.

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry among other names played multiple roles in this 2012 film. 

 Edoro concludes with a quote from an interview with Helen Oyeyemi, author of six books, the most recent a collection of her short fiction, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (2016).  (NPR review here.)
" [    In a recent interview, Helen Oyeyemi identifies what is really awful about burdening fiction with social issues:
I’m wary of – how do I put it – “getting tagged,” I guess, but I also understand the need to try and do that. When I try to think about my favourite books, I’m still not quite sure how I found them. There needs to be something you can say to people that lets them know that they might like this book, but I sometimes worry that the kinds of things that people say about what I write would not help my books find the readers I intend. I feel like most writers write for people who just read, who would open a book and jump in and see what’s there. But burdening a book with promises that once you’ve read this book, you’ll understand this issue or that issue—it’s not good. [Read more] " ]