LINES OF THE DAY

". . . 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

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Good Old Days: Reading the Fictional 100 Years War

Doyle, Arthur  Conan (1891) The White Company and Sir Nigel (1906)





     . . . . Both novels are set in the 14th century within the 100 Years War.  But the later published Sir Nigel takes place earlier in the war against the backdrop of the Bubonic Plague.

The White Company, featuring a fictionalized mercenary company, under  the command of of the fictional Nigel Loring (modeled on the Prince's Neil Loring), is an historical novel of the Black Prince's Trastámara campaign, forced on him by his father, Edward III. Historically, this campaign broke the Black Prince's non-stop winning streak in place since his heroism at Crécy, broke his finances (his own habits helped, of course), and destroyed his health. Here began one of the declines of England's fortunes in France during this endless conflict.

This is the campaign of the famous historical Battle of Nájera, the campaign where Geoffrey Chaucer, the great English poet, was present, at least at the start, during the organization in the small Navarrese city of Olite, in the Pyrenees.  It was a catastrophic venture, because Edward III, falling into dotage, ordered his son to make it, without consideration of any of the realities on the ground, where King Edward wasn't present.  Edward III wanted the usurping but much saner and superior figure, the bastard brother Henry Trastámara, removed from the throne of Castile and replaced with the insane, corrupt, cruel but legitimately birthed scion (the Black Prince knew all this), Don Pedro. The Prince was never healthy again, which meant leaving the kingdom in England and France to an infant who grew up feckless and so we are all about the Wars of the Roses rolling afterward.

When I read The White Company as an undergraduate, I knew none of this history or geography. 

Even now, I find it annoying that for many chapters 'the prince' is referred to only as that, rather than as the Prince of Wales or even the Black Prince, which would have given this ignoramous some kind of chronological marker.  John Chandos figures in both of Doyle's 14th century novels, and I had no idea who he was either.  (But then, I didn't know who Froissart was either, who is one of the primary foundations for the study of the 14th century of England and France!  I mention this because I get such a kick out of knowing I learned what I didn't know then!)  It really frustrated me back then that The White Company wasn't what Barringer's Nuestra fantasy history was -- where I didn't need to know who anybody was, because none of it was history, except, to a degree, the idealized version of the 14th century's aristo chivalric view of itself, culturally and socially, that the class expected the entire social and economic strata to accept.

I found Barringer's trilogy around the same time I found The White Company.



So it was other historical fiction progenitor and progeny I've been considering most while reading these 14th century historical novels of Doyle's. Closes to his period was Leslie Barringer's 14th century historical fantasy trilogy, The Nuestrian Cycle. These were published more than two decades after Doyle's. Like Doyle's, Barringer's first volume of the trilogy opens with a primary figure-protagonist in a monastery, from which both are expelled due to family necessity.





Out earlier historical fiction, I noticed how much The White Company owes to the father of historical fiction, Sir Walter Scott, in his opening pages of Ivanhoe, though it takes place in the highly fictionalised 12th century. The romance tropes Scott initiated in this, his first work composed entirely of English subjects, are in full view in the earlier section of The White Company, particularly including as a featured hero, one descended of of the Saxon line as is the knight, Ivanhoe. 

While reading Doyle's books, though nearly 100% certain it didn't happen, I've been amusing myself with the idea it isn't beyond the realms of possibility at some point, Doyle, Kipling, Owen Wister, H. Rider Haggard and Theodore Roosevelt had dinner together. Owen Wister was a life-long friend of TR's, dedicating The Virginian to him. Both were Harvard men; TR's mother was a Georgian unreconstructed plantation belle, and Wister's mother was the daughter of Pearce Meese Butler, the largest slave owner in the south).  TR knew Haggard and Kipling, quite well too, and like Wister, they even spent some time with him in the White House.  In the run-up to WWI TR and Kipling were in close contact -- both snapping their teeth to convince the politicos and the public that preventive war with Germany was necessary.



Though he never did meet Arthur Conan Doyle, "When Doyle engineered his [Holmes's] return, Theodore Roosevelt sent word to him that a guest room awaited him at the White House."

Edgar Rice Burroughs should be at that dinner too, but maybe he wasn’t of the right class, despite being of the right time. He certainly read TR's On African Game Trails (1910), on his own 1913 visit to Africa. "The New York Times made its first mention of Edgar Rice Burroughs on June 14, 1914, when the paper’s Book Review included Tarzan of the Apes among “One Hundred Books for Summer Reading...." 

The Review's description of the book that follows would have been irresistible to TR except TR was engaged in his own hair-raising jungle adventure in 1914, in the jungles of Brazil, which damned near killed him and should have. One feels that only TR himself could have survived what he survived, with his pre-existing conditions, of a leg wound prone to re-erupting septically, recurrent malaria acquired in Cuba (called doncha know 'the Cuban sickness', overweight and hypertensive.

TR, frequently described as "a great boy" by everyone from his wife, to himself and other politicians, was well known for his love of what was called 'boys' books' of his time, including Booth Tarkington's Penrod stories.  What all these writers have in common, with the possible exception of Leslie Barringer (and Scott), is they were one and all conscious white supremacists,  imperialists who bought into the cult of ‘manliness, race and eugenics,' and that ‘good’ (white) women were owed their protection and respect, and ‘bad’ women were malicious schemers who worked for their enemies. They were indeed, of their time.  Not until the end of the 20th Century would we see again so many supposedly adult men devoted to entertainment that was originally aimed at kids, self-identifying with every sort of superhero, even overtly evil ones.

WWI – and the Great Influenza --was the explosion that shredded that.  So far, not even the novelcorona virus has done that to us. People are just itching to employ their manliness in shooting libs and blacks and feminists and LBGQT people and intellectuals-college-educated-writers-journalists and immigrants and atheists and depending on who and which group(s) among them Catholics and Jews and socialist-commies.  Gosh, people -- don't these manliest of the manly white supremacists look just like the Khmer Rouge?

~~~~~~~~~~~

Currently reading as well, still in the 14th century, and graduating slowly into the 15th, A.J. Pollard's Late Medieval England 1399-1509 (2000), Hugh Bichino's The Wars of the Roses 1455-1487: The Blood Struggle for England's Throne (2015; 2015), and re-reading for the 4th time, Malory: The Knight Who Became King Arthur's Chronicler (2005) by Christina Hardyment.

On another topic the book with which I'm deeply engaged is The Haitians: A Decolonial History by Jean Casimir (2020). This is meaty brain food, in the way French-Caribbean intellectual-historians of their world always are, providing viewpoints and conceptualization foreign and shocking to the historians born, bred and trained in the – former? – colonialist power nations.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

We See It Last Night: Postures of Violence Yet the Insanity Is Real Violence

     . . . . I didn't watch the degrading display last night, that the complicit politicos and media persist in calling a 'presidential debate,' a display that was anything but presidential or a debate. El Vaquero did  tune in though, while on a separate computer and screen simultaneously conducting the rehearsal, directing multiple camera angles, etc. for the first event of NOLA Reconnect that goes live -- on Friday already!  Long Distance Producer. 

The stress around here lately is extremely high with all the moving parts to synchronize, with all the paying audience.  It will only increase each coming weekend until the end, with an interactive cocktail party, that isn't Zoom, but a new tech in beta as of this time. 

Simultaneously we have the ever increasing stress and anxiety and sheer insanity of NYC's surge of new coronavirus cases and deaths. They doubled between Friday and Monday, and doubled that from Monday to Tuesday for all the reasons we said this was inevitable.  Even so the mayor reopened the schools and indoor dining yesterday.

Thank goodness el V ended the day in much better shape than he was in for most of it, including lowered BP and happier mood.  He insists our dinner did that (crispy outside, baked inside, organic chicken cutlets in a sauce of wine, mushrooms, garlic and white onion, with heritage potatoes and broccoli, from the Farmer's Market), but I think it was how well the shoot went, and the results of it. This surely lowered my BP too -- it was not a good day by-and-large for either of us, in a sequence of not good days -- despite both of us getting our hair cut and styled for the first time since February. Another friend held in great affection is in the hospital.  Two more friends forced to evacuate from the wildfires. Another one has lost everything in the wildfires.

Thus my choice not to tune into the national disgrace put on international display of the one-man-fling of shyte non-stop from his tiny, but still dripping with blood, hands.

Addendum concerning last night.  For everyone fond of alternate history, I would like you all to think about what the media would be all up about and all in about and all over, IF ... Hillary had told the shoggoth stalking her around the stage and constantly interrupting her to, "SIT DOWN, MAN, AND SHUT UP!"

Instead, I watched A Fistful of Dollars (1964!) on Amazon Prime.

It’s a weird experience to watch this now since first seeing it as a kid, bringing to it what I’ve learned over the decades* about the tropes of US history and violence, particularly the myth of the solitary gunman’s justified violence to create ‘justice’, tthe Mexican American War, the War of the Rebellion, and the Unglorious Welllost Cause, lynching-Jim Crow, Woodrow Wilson. I's all about posturing, like shoggoth last night -- except Clint Eastwood possesses that prized slow burn solitary heroic stillness and silence that shoggoth can't even imagine, much less see, and never embody.

Richard Slotkin, the great historian who taught me so much about this starting in the earlier days of American Studies, should have received the Nobel Prize for history for his work revealing the history of US racism and gun violence in our entertainment which forever pushes the lie that a single white man with a gun can and does set the world right. He should have gotten the Bancroft Prize and at least one National Book Award too.  But he did not because nobody wants to deal with these concepts that are our history and character – and most of all don’t want to deal with the knowledge that this toxic culture is created almost entirely out of what we've been indoctrinated into by our popular entertainment.






~~~~~~~~

Not to mention all I've learned about the making of films and television, from writing the scripts to the technical side of things from the many screen professionals with whom we've been hanging out for so many decades now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Hell AND Highwater At the Same Time, Yet We Persist

      . . . . Well as predicted after some nice weeks of new infections staying below 1.0, since the weekend we have gone up to 1.14 new cases per million.  Nobody could have predicted this, could have known, would have dreamed that with the colleges and universities reopened and the High Holy days new infections would begin to surge, now could they? I spit.  Many times, I spit.  But hey who cares that some get sick and die. It's just about old people and black people.  Who needs them? Who wants them?  Especially old women.

[....Some of the neighborhoods experiencing surges have substantial Jewish populations and the upticks come as people have been celebrating Rosh Hashanah. The Health Department did not immediately respond to a question about whether there’s a link between the surges and religious gatherings, and Choksi wouldn’t say what kind of get-togethers are leading to the latest surges.

“The rule is simple, regardless of whether it’s a wedding or some other large event,” he said. “If you’re having large gatherings with many people indoors, and particularly if masks are not being used regularly, those are the things that we know from New York City, as well as around the world, [that] can lead to further transmission.....]

And the public schools aren't even open yet. That happens on the 30th, Wednesday. 

Show me where large gatherings gather and the students are physically on campuses this isn't happening.

Also so is indoor dining supposed to resume, at 25% capacity.  But very few of the restaurants, at least around here, even outside, bother with more than four inches separating diners.

Other burning anxieties will we be able to vote? Will our votes be counted? All federal funding for everything is supposedly being cut off for NYC.  And the Supreme Court, that doesn't look good either does it?  We donate a small sum to Dems every day, as we're both too fragile to be out there on the street, demanding a General Strike.

And then there are the people who are in terrible medical danger -- and not from covid-19 but other conditions that have't been as well cared for due to covid-19.  The cancer remission of someone whom I hold in deep affection has turned into a new spread.  This is ... just wrong.

Plus the streets are getting more dangerous all the time, as people get more and more desperate and see no hope, no end to this, only worse.

But! we continue the scheduling and tech for NOLA Reconnect.  It really is coming together.  As long as there isn't a hurricane....

I have scheduled flu shots.  El V got a great hair cut last week, and I've scheduled one for me on Sunday, while the temps are warm enough for the salon door to stay open.  Only one stylist working per day, and only a single customer at a time.  Unlike Nancy Pelosi I won't have any trouble having my hair washed while wearing a mask, you betchum Red Rider.

This latter is HUGE for me.  I have refused over and over to meet with friends in restaurants in the last weeks.These friends have been doing this for a while.  I don't know who else they see.  So far, it still remains only our small pod of B, K&C and S that I'm willing to sit with without a mask for any length of time. I DO NOT see other people, to interact with at all, except at the doctor's office, and occasionally in a food store or Farmer's Market.  I do not plan to change this.

We are planning Thanksgiving, up north.  As Our Host said when it was being discussed, "Come November I will either be suicidal from the election result or I will want to celebrate.  Either one means I need friends and a good meal. I haven't cooked a turkey in years, but I damn sure will this year."

And tonight, while el V and Our Captain on the New Orleans ground discuss fees and scheduling I have been making dinner of home grown and butchered pork chops with home grown rosemary in a bouquet garni with home grown apples.  Home grown heritage potatoes. Home grown kale and corn -- the last of the year.  And a beautiful bottle of wine from Alsace.

Yes. We persist in persisting. Even though shoggothinchief says it doesn't matter that people our age die, and young people aren't affected by the coronavirus.  What else can we do?  And it's so much better for us than for millions and millions.  No bottle of wine from Alsace for them. Or even anything to eat.


Friday, September 18, 2020

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Constitution Day

     . . . . Today is Constitution Day in the U.S.

Weep. Weep for all we have lost, when finally beginning to make progress.

In observance and honor of Constitution Day, the White House called a 'history' conference. They are calling it the "Patriot Commission."

https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/09/17/trump-launches-patriotic-education-commission-calls-1619-project-ideological-poison/#5704278c155a


Its goal is to eradicate any teaching of American history through the lens of the slave trade, slavery and genocide. Further is war on the 1619 Project.  They are saying that such teaching should be a treated as treason, i.e. a crime.

Further, hosting this kind of thing fits beautifully into shoggothinchief's* desire to run against Kamala Harris, rather than Joe Biden.

* The Guardian today, reporting on the latest woman to come forward describing being sexually assaulted by shoggothinchief, as "'It felt like tentacles': the women who accuse Trump of sexual misconduct"

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/17/amy-dorris-donald-trump-women-who-accuse-sexual-misconduct

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

New Orleans! Survived Again! See You On The Second Line!

  . . . .Announcing NOLA Reconnect, a virtual visit to New Orleans and Acadiana, Oct. 2-4, 9-11, 16-17, 2020 -- video trailer just uploaded.

NOLA RECONNECT

A VIRTUAL VISIT TO NEW ORLEANS

A POSTMAMBO MUSIC SEMINAR

OCTOBER 2-4, 9-11, 16-17, 2020

VIDEO TRAILER HERE

INTIMATE, INTERACTIVE VISITS

WITH LIVE SOCIALLY DISTANCED MUSIC BY

(confirmed so far / in alphabetical order)

SHAMARR ALLEN

JAMES ANDREWS

JOHN BOUTTÉ

DAVID GREELY

COREY LEDET

DELFEAYO MARSALIS

LEYLA McCALLA

SOUL CREOLE TRIO

STANTON MOORE TRIO

HERLIN RILEY

SPECIAL GUEST FROM DETROIT

JOHN SINCLAIR w/ MARK BINGHAM

and

JASON BERRY

RICHARD CAMPANELLA

LOLIS ERIC ELIE

INA J. FANDRICH

MICHELLE N. GIBSON, THE ARTIST

LILY KEBER

BLACK FEATHER CHIEF COREY RAYFORD

NED SUBLETTE

MIA X

MORE NAMES TO BE ANNOUNCED

WRITERS, SCHOLARS, CHEFS, CHOREOGRAPHERS, AND MORE

ZOOM Q + A CALLS WITH ALL PRESENTERS / YOU ASK THE QUESTIONS

Produced by Ned Sublette for Postmambo +

Ariana Hall for CubaNOLA Arts Collective

REGISTRATION IS OPEN NOW,

CLOSES SEPTEMBER 30

THERE IS NO WEBSITE.  WRITE FOR PRICES AND OTHER INFORMATION: postmambo@gmail.com

* * *

AN OPEN LETTER FROM POSTMAMBO FOUNDER


NED SUBLETTE


September 16, 2020

“We can do it virtual,” said Ariana.

Back in March, the you-know-what forced us to cancel For the Funk of It, our first Postmambo New Orleans Music Seminar. That was a blow to my small company. Fully subscribed with 50 or so travelers, this group trip to New Orleans was gonna be the big one. For five years Postmambo had specialized in immersive, educational musical experiences on the ground in Cuba. This was to be our debut in the great music city of New Orleans.

We reanimated in July, after the initial shock of the pandemic had passed, when our distinguished producer on the ground in New Orleans, Ariana Hall of CubaNOLA Arts Collective, proposed doing a virtual visit instead. When our travelers said they were interested, we raced to make it real. And now we’re offering it to the public.

It’s all taking place over the first three weekends of October -- Oct. 2-4, 9-11, and 16-17 – with sessions in the afternoons and on Friday and Saturday nights. (Since it’s still hurricane season, rain dates are Oct. 23-24.) If you want to come with us, now’s the time to registerRegistration closes September 30, so hurry!

* * *

Things are bad for musicians right now in New Orleans, but there’s a lot going on during this lockdown.

This is a time to communicate. This is a time to support NOLA music and culture.

NOLA Reconnect. An interactive immersion in New Orleans, with a side trip to Acadiana. Intimate, shortish sets by major musical figures just for us, followed by Q & A, plus talks and gatherings with socially distanced writers, historians, cultural practitioners, food experts, and choreographers.

We’re still confirming participants, but as of right now we have confirmed (in alphabetical order):

*) performance by

SHAMARR ALLEN

JAMES ANDREWS

JOHN BOUTTÉ

DELFEAYO MARSALIS

LEYLA MCCALLA

STANTON MOORE TRIO

w/ JAMES SINGLETON + DAVID TORKANOWSKY

HERLIN RILEY

MORE NAMES TO BE ANNOUNCED!

*) Acadiana with

DAVID GREELY

COREY LEDET

SOUL CREOLE TRIO

*) special guest from Detroit JOHN SINCLAIR performing a new poem commissioned for the occasion, accompanied by MARK BINGHAM in Breaux Bridge.

*) interactions with artists, scholars, and practitioners, including

JASON BERRY

RICHARD CAMPANELLA

INA J. FANDRICH

LILY KEBER

BLACK FEATHER CHIEF COREY RAYFORD

NED SUBLETTE

*) cooking with

LOLIS ERIC ELIE

MIA X

*) dance with

MICHELLE N. GIBSON, THE ARTIST

MORE NAMES TO BE ANNOUNCED

info: postmambo@gmail.com

Even though we can’t wait to get back to physical travel, we’ve gotten excited about the new possibilities that virtual offers. These are not simply livestreams. It’s not TV. Every event is participatory, with live Q&A. And it’s not anonymous – we’re a group that talks to each other. New Orleans artists are exploring solutions for how to project their culture into the new social distance. Historians will help us frame our understanding of the city’s times and spaces. At night, there’ll be virtual cocktail parties -- we'll coach you on making a Sazerac -- so we can compare notes and hang.

Tired of long hours on the screen? So are we. We’re trying to improve the virtual experience. Concise and dense is our esthetic, and we’ll take long breaks to get the blood moving again.

Until we can travel freely again, Postmambo is a media company. In our first meeting with tech director Chris Butcher, he said (I’m paraphrasing): whatever happens with live music and whatever happens with the pandemic, virtual’s here to stay.

Chris is right. This is only the beginning. The tools are going to keep getting better. We have ideas. After we produce and evaluate this, we’ll announce our next offerings.

Programs are only available with full subscription to the entire eight days. No day passes, no à la cartes. But we’ll have a passworded archive up for three months afterwards so that registered travelers who miss a program can catch up.

Write for prices. I won’t lie, it’s not cheap. It can’t be. This is a live interactive experience custom-produced for our seminar group. We can’t keep giving music away and expect to pay the artists, producers, and support personnel. We’re at an “inflection point” not only in our terrifying present-day politics and social disintegration, but also in affirming that cultural work has value, and that artists deserve to be paid.

Reconnect with New Orleans together with us, virtually. It’s not a large group. We have room for you! Happy to answer any questions.

info: postmambo@gmail.com