". . . 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, March 30, 2020

This Is Why There Are So Few William Gibson

     . . . . This is the difference between third rate sf/f writers and a Bill Gibson. Neither Bill nor, say, would a Jack Womack, have ever said anything this callous, this ignorant and this stupid, and certainly not in public for publication, much less brag about bringing the virus to a place where, so far, it isn't.

Man, even in these times these hacks couldn't resist the idea of promoting ME ME ME ME ME. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Books Are the Best Distraction -- Diaries: John Quincy Adams

     . . . . John Quincy Adams's Diaries are so much fun to read. 

The diarist is a keen, retentive observer, who writes from an historically valuable unique point of view, that of a first hand witness. So much of what he writes he participated in and / or witnessed personally. Many of these are classic events the national past, starting with the Battle of Bunker Hill, which 12-year-old JQ watched with his mother, Abigail Adams. As profoundly informative these Diaries are (brilliantly edited, by David Walstreicher for The Library of America), they are too,  frequently witty, and often funny. 

El V and I laugh out loud frequently during sessions of reading the Journals, either to ourselves or aloud when reading to each other.

Who could resist JQ's bare presentations of Henry Clay, who comes through as a different fellow, though still Clay,  from those of his biographers, even those who may not necessarily approve of the man and politician. JQ initially spent a great of time struggling to get Clay to work -- and to think instead of bluster. During the 1815 Treaty of Ghent wranglings, for which the US had summoned Adams from the position as minister to Russia, there are many a mention of Clay arriving back to his room from a night of whores, cards and wine just as JQ was rising from his bed to work. 

No one who isn't old in study of US history, or at least in years, could even recognize what he's writing about much of the time, much less find this Massachusetts Puritan (but one who wished he could be a great poet), amusing, much less made to laugh appreciatively by the skill of something he's written.

JQ's passages of Paris in the day and hours prior to Napoleon's arrival in Paris, breaking his incarceration on St. Helena, to reign again as emperor are particularly interesting if one knows that at the same time he's expecting his wife and child to arrive from traveling across war torn, northern Europe alone, from St. Petersburg -- in winter. This journey took her an astonishing 40 days!  But not a word in his Diaries about this, other than, I was expecting the arrival of my wife. 

What JQ describes instead are the various orders of Parisians and their responses, as the reports of  the stages of Napoleon's arrival are accepted with the ho-hum shrugging of shoulders,  rolling of eyes, and pragmatic reactions such as turning the Bourbon flag arms sold as tourist souvenirs into Napoleon's insignia, turning Royal Bourbon cakes into Imperial  cakes and preferring to cheer or hiss their targets on stage at the theater.  It's all opera buffa (JQ was in the audience for many all around Europe) and profoundly interesting, while illuminating and funny.

Or, who could resist this, from when JQ was himself Secretary of State to James Monroe?  President Monroe proposed that Andrew Jackson (the most famous fellow in the US because of the Battle of New Orleans) be appointed Ambassador to Russia. Thomas Jefferson exploded, "Good God man, he'd have us at war in a month!" (Jefferson really disliked Jackson, one of the very few opinions Jefferson held with which I concur.) 

I do wish he'd included his wife, Louisa, and what she was doing and thinking in his Journals.  She's barely mentioned except for being 'unwell,' which meant anything from migraines to pregnancy to miscarriage to hysterics. Who wouldn't have gotten a case of hysterics occasionally, when constantly pregnant and losing the children and married to this fellow? I am enjoying his company very much, and I know he and Louisa did love each other very much, but sheesh!

What this means is that I'm officially old.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Thursday Turned Out Well!

     . . . . Thursday, we arose before 7, dressed after not sleeping all night, and went out to the supermarket. Who knew how lovely it is out there under a blue, sunny sky so early?

MW was nearly empty when we got there, but by the time we checked out it was filling right up. $300 of Stuff.

Thank goodness for the wheeled Italian granny shopping cart that has been leaning against a wall here unused for umpity years. Not only could we get so much Stuff at once, we didn't need to use one of MW's carts. We shouldn't have to do this again for another week, I think.


     . . . . The reports are that the Zoom courses are immediately becoming a lifesaver for the School's students. And not only here. I'm getting that info from all sorts of friends who doing college and university distance learning. Like the Cuban Music students P's unanimously requested their classes meet twice a week rather than once. They can see each others' faces, they can all talk.

Others we know, too are saying that immediately they felt the students were focused on them and the content in a way they never were in the physical classroom. E has students who say they are so lonely in their isolation from their peers this is keeping them sane.

Plus, the music classes -- afro latin, Cuban classes -- with the music that is the subject, are so cheerful and interesting. For this hour and 15 minutes the students don't have to think about C19.  Also one can have fun in other ways with Zoom.  At one point the students were asked to stand up from where they were sitting in their locations and do some dance steps.  Hilarity ensued as moving has the effect of cutting off heads, leaving other parts of the body moving on the screen, etc.

After trying to do some straightening and putting away the Stuff from the incredibly stressed shopping, and then the class,  we were both chilled. We'd no sleep Wednesday night, stressed about shopping. Our metabolisms were screwed from rushing to dress, not having breakfast or anything before shopping, and then at home trying to get certain things out of the way before 11 AM. and the course meeting

So, after class, el V and I did something we never do. We shut off all the devices except fones and went to bed. We spent the afternoon getting warm and talking and reading and laughing, and answering phone calls.

The heat came up and I began what now I regard as a 'treat' dinner, after four days straight of variations on the main of kidney beans and rice (ya, rationing and frugality from the start, yanmo?), a fresh (not thawed from the freezer)  pork roast from the shopping, in a slow oven with lots of the cheap white wine, onion, some dried 'shrooms, etc. fresh asparagus and yammy yams!  And wine, the good stuff, of which we drank some! And read to each other and talked and laughed some more, while listening to music. I ate whole (smallish) meal. I've been forcing food into me because I know not eating won't do any good. But have had little to no appetite for weeks now.

Then came a phone call, and like so many others, we were saved by our friends!

K and C's hardware store up on Jumel Terrace had a big supply of gloves and masks. They got us some. We could reimburse them via PayPal, in which someone just yesterday deposited exactly the amount they'd spent on us. Dear, beloved B biked up there and did a hand off -- it took him less than 45 minutes, and there's a big hill, that's what kind of biker he is! So B and the mother of his daughter, el V and I all have masks and gloves now. Plus they threw in some quarts of Parmalat, they'd picked up for me earlier because in their neighborhood evidently nobody drinks the stuff and it just sits there on the shelves.


Plus el V was called to write some press releases and other promotional material for some latin artists -- $work$!


Loaned across-hall neighbor a Hudson Bay wool blanket. It's warm/ish outside but this building's original lack of insulation (the post Civil War era) makes cold accumulate and just hang when the radiators aren't on, at least until the hot weather comes to stay. Wednesday night it was down to 37°.  So ya, it was cold in here.  Plus the blanket, a box of 3-minute oatmeal that she can cover when it sits with a plate -- nor does she have an attention span, I think, longer than that, due to her mental illness and the meds that keep sort of balanced. She still hasn't taken the steps to get some cooking gear -- she does have the mean$ to do so.  Gave her some of our hot mashed yams to add to her soup - beans, along with some boiled eggs. None of the asparagus or pork, because she doesn't eat that. Today I gave her a quart of the Parmalat.

It's not as pretty a day as yesterday was, but I woke this morning for the first time without feeling sick to my stomach. I still haven't listening to the news or even read it, because everyday Death Cult Jim Jones declares something worse, and a greater determination to kill us and all Dems, insuring his reelection.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Panipat (2019) -- Maratha Empire

     . . . . Last evening the school in which the course is situated had its usual faculty Wine Wednesday, but via Zoom. That was cheerful. 

Then it was dinner time. After clean-up I watched for a while an historical action film set in the 18th C Maratha Empire Hindustan, Panipat -- Great Betrayal (2019). Recall at the same time (1751) the East India Company is warring to take out the Mughal Empire on the other side of the subcontinent. That the Marathas took out the Nizam helped the Brits do that.  Around 1805, the EIC begins its war upon the Maratha and other Hindu kingdoms. We see some spectacular recreations of the famous Red Fort, among other striking visuals.
Ashutosh Gowariker’s magnum opus ‘Panipat’ is based on historical facts, taking some creative liberties along the way. Shadashivrao Bhau (Arjun Kapoor), is an able commander in his cousin Nanasaheb Peshwa’s (Mohnish Bahl) army. After a victorious battle against the Nizam of Udgir, Shadashivrao Bhau is chosen by the Maratha Peshwa to lead their army to Delhi. Ahmad Shah Abdali (Sanjay Dutt), the king of Afghanistan, has set his inroads into India after forming an alliance with Najib-Ud-Daula (Mantra) with the intention to defeat the Marathas and curb their expanding power....
.... ‘Panipat’ packs in a layered narrative that delves into the complex politics of the period, the intricate workings of war strategies versus might, negotiation dynamics and the importance of forming alliances. And it also weaves in the love story between Shadashivrao Bhau and Parvati Bai. In fact, the chemistry between Kriti Sanon and Arjun Kapoor as their love story develops, is one of the high points of the film. But with a run-time of close to three hours and the many characters and plot points the film touches upon it becomes a lengthy and at times, tedious watch...[but worth it, particularly for the spectacular final battle sequence]
There are spectacular dance numbers, and singing interludes, which these I don't care for generally and don't here either, though they too are spectacular. What I love are the dancing, the brilliant colors, that eye-popping palette, all that gold and truck loads of pearls, rubies and emeralds. So I watched that for a bit, before retiring, reading aloud, and not sleeping most of the night, filled with the stress of getting up at 6 AM for a supermarket shopping trip, without real gloves and mask.  But I do have my own Italian granny era wheeled shopping cart that has been leaning against a wall here unused for umpity years!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

PSA Safe Grocery Shopping in COVID-19 Pandemic – UPDATED!!!

     . . . . PSA Safe Grocery Shopping in COVID-19 Pandemic – UPDATED!!!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Meeting In Zoom Time

     . . . . There's a lot to think about these days, which everybody is thinking about surely -- unless they are the narcissist sociopaths who have determined to deal with this crisis by letting us all die in hopes that this will resurrect the markets and ensure a re-election.  Resurrect is the miracle word, all right.  Hey ho though -- Easter's a'comin', so you betcha!

    . . . . And then, there's doing meetings and courses and so much else via Zoom or another of those web communications with audio and video operations.  While cooking this afternoon I also participated in one of those meetings.  I'd never thought to say this but I appreciated being in a meeting, one in which I never hit the 'raise hand' function or 'speak' function.  The meeting was run by university school's administration and staff.  Faculty and students were 'present' and could speak, ask questions, comment.  Or not.

But one could see the faces in real time, speaking in real time.  After so many days already of self-isolation and now supposedly enforced???? isolation?????  I found it actually pleasant to see these other faces and hear their voices. Not that they known anything more than anyone else, but hey -- company!  One thing I could not help but notice is that with some of those running things, who happened to be women, there were children's voices bleeding into the audio.  Emphasis here -- in these cases it was all women.  Make of this what you might.

The nice discovery about Zoom, for those of us who don't have dedicated home offices and studios, is the function that allows for a 'green stage', i.e. one can pull up whatever one wishes from one's own files to be the background, rather than, o, say, Steve Colbert's bubble bath tub.  Also, besides the synched audio and visuals, one can in real time import sound -- for instance music, from one's own playlists and files, as well as video and photos from one's own playlists and files.

Something very much appreciated.

Now.  How long will everybody's hardware, our bloody laptops, stand up?  We're not going to have any new stuff available for a very long time.  Anymore than PPEs, masks, gloves, sanitizer, means to get permission slips that allow one to go out for essential things -- if one wears a mask that one does not have and probably never will.

When will we have a national draft to put people to work on the manufacture, organization and distribution of all these essentials?  I guess most certainly not until many are dead because saboteur in chief is Bored! Now! 

 with the virus and his sil thinks everything needs to be reopened to resurrect the market and get elected.

But fear not if you live in Florida, from where all those happy breakers have returned with the virus to all 4 quarters.  Florida has received all the PPE and medical supplies from the federal stock it requested.  California -- go jump in the lake of herd immunity.  So much cheaper and a lot more fun.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

It's Official: We Are A "Major Disaster" Declares FEMA

     . . . . Could C19 be Nature putting humanity on a time out to give the planet a break? 

Had finished breakfast, which was our very old, dear friend, business partner and neighbor-across-the street B's wonderful cornbread, an apple, a banana and tea. Turned on the computer and learned FEMA has declared us officially a Disaster.  Not just any old disaster either.  A Major Disaster.  

Cuomo was addressing us at that very moment I turned on, but listening for a minute, I realized what he was saying was what I know. As for some of the information at this time, since no matter how much may be brought in, there are no masks, gloves, sanitizer, or testing -- or probably medical care -- available for us, since, it really MUST go to the health workers. And as hard as I tried to prepare for this, I have no means of making a mask. The masks had been taken by resellers already in February, as were the gloves and the sanitizer.

Breakfast came after going out early this morning, hitting both the Gourmet Garage and Morton Williams. Per usual there was a line for Trader Joe's, and people are not 6 feet from each other -- I check when I go out, just to see; have no plans to go there, anymore than to Raffettos, which also was open -- not even possible to do 6 foot separation.  Raffettos takes cash only and they aren't wearing gloves, even now, I saw through the window.

The GG was unpacking today's delivery towers of sanitary hand wipes for the stand at the door for handling the carts and baskets, and to dispose of them when leaving. I had brought a pencil and my own disinfectant wipes (for as long as they last) for punching in the pin for my card when paying, and handling the items. I had improvised that t-shirt mask, but ultimately it doesn't work. Cuomo has declared it mandatory for people in our age group to wear masks when we go out -- but we don't have any, so?

But anyway -- today is a lot better than yesterday, just physically. Finally, last night at some point in bed with a book, the radio on, my stomach unknotted, for the first time in many days and nights.

In this time loving and appreciating even more our usual radio programs. Last night was the weekly, WGBO's "Latin Jazz Cruise," hosted by our friend Bobbie Sanabría. He began with songs and rhythms of the orisha, Babalú-Ayé, the orisha of healing and the sick. Bobby was so matter-of-fact in his host patter between cuts, most of which was about the music and the artist that created it, just as usual, explaining for people who may not know the Afro Latin religion of Santería, from the Yoruba spiritual way of Lucumi. WBGO is the jazz station out of Newark, that plays every kind of music created by African Americans, and to much lesser degree that which has come of out of Afro Cuba and Puerto Rico.

It did us so much good!  Music is a healer, a soother and a cleanser, and it brings people together -- plus it brims with history. The rituals, never uncoupled from the sacred music, dance and drum, is expressed in (Yoruba/Santería/Lucumi, and in Haitian Vodún too) rituals that cleanse one from bad influences, stress, etc. -- are limpiado la cabeza, i.e. washing, washing the head and making one strong to resist and survive.  Cuba has always been this great cleanser for us and the Postmamboists, where all this ugly stuff is put away, and we disconnect digitally and otherwise, from the world here.

Music, being kind and thoughtful -- and laughing, are also limpiado!

Then Vaquero joined me and we read aloud, him getting silly, and we laughed together for the first time in a week -- which had a lot to do with rasslin' Zoom for distance teaching, and wrestling with Quick Books to issue Postmambo credit invoices for the postponed "For the Funk of It" trip. We began a new read-aloud-before-bed book, The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, Metropolitan Books, 2019 by Greg Grandin. Vaquero had already read it, but I haven't, and he loved it so much he wanted to read it again, but with us doing it together.

This is Greg's latest work, the first book to put the great saboteur in the context of our whole history of national mythology. These are along the lines of which I've been talking myself, for quite some time -- quite some time prior to 2016. But Greg has done it so brilliantly, cleanly and succinctly. He is not only a deeply intellectual analyst, but he possesses as well the tools of employing metaphorical, poetic (we really do need poetry now) and symbolic thinking, presenting this all in easily comprehensible and gorgeously composed prose.

Greg writes so well, it leaves one breathless. He cites us and American Slave Coast too. Plus he's clearly influenced in his thinking by the writers I've been living with in terms of our national mythology almost all my life, Leslie Fiedler and Richard Slotkin.

Slotkin was one of the innovators of American Studies, which brought together history, literature and pop culture, which meant music, movies and tv too -- O I was so there when learned there was such a discipline!)

Regeneration Through Violence: the Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860 (Wesleyan University Press, 1973)

The Fatal Environment: the myth of the frontier in the age of industrialization, 1800-1890, (Atheneum, 1985)

Gunfighter nation: the myth of the frontier in twentieth-century America (Atheneum, 1992)

I have all three of these books here, Slotkin's written other works too, including some brilliant fiction of the War of the Rebellion) and though Vaquero knows my devotion to the works and has paid attention when I bring up Slotkin's analysis in pertinent ways, he's never read them. I think we'll start reading them aloud after finishing Greg's.

It's unbelievable how clenched in every bit of me I've been for days, now that -- for today anyway -- I've unclenched.  I was able to bring back a few things for the neighbor across the hall -- she's just helpless. She doesn't cook.  She doesn't even have a pot with a lid with which to make rice and doesn't know how to make rice anyway.  Among the items I brought was Vaseline Petroleum Jelly.  It's the only thing that gives relief and healing to our hands, which are constantly disinfecting and lathering.  She didn't know either that vaseline does this. Vaseline was a staple on the farm when I was growing up.

I'd never ever in a billion years been able to guess in the misery of my growing up years that at the end of my life I'd be grateful for having been brought up on a farm and taught from the time I could walk and hold things to cook, clean, plan meals, organized a household.

There are so many people like my neighbor, who have been eating out (in her case various aid and assistance organizations for elderly people -- and they've all closed down -- they'd delivered meals too, and she got totally dependent on them) and never cooking) for years.  One of our brilliant friends, who doesn't suffer any of the challenges and disabilities of our neighbor, told me once she refused to cook, even have a stove and dishes, because she couldn't stand washing dishes!

Every time --which is many times a day -- I wash dishes now, hands covered in hot water and soap, I feel I'm doing the right thing, and I feel safe.  😸

Friday, March 20, 2020

No Mask Masking.

     . . . .  They Say -- actually a clothing designer / fabricator said -- a real person said -- a cotton t-shirt tied around lower face and nose is a fairly effective face mask.  If one has a cotton t-shirt blend with stretch fiber (the close fitting, show-of-chest sort), it is even better due to the micro fibers.

A true friend, who also is a terrific clothing designer and fabricator, and a brilliant seamstress into the bargain, said she thought that hard bra cups made with foam etc., with elastic straps sewn on would make pretty effective masks. She went off to make some.

And in the end, as the federal government refuses to help us because as Saboteur in chief said, "That the story of life," and, "I'm not a supply clerk." the only constant and consistent advice for what to do is "Watch tv!"

So, now, imagine moi, me friends, face wrapped in t-shirt, bra worn over the shirt, merging the casual, easy style of the mundane, with early, edgy Madonna style, watching Downton Abbey.

Don't forget to carry a chopstick while wearing, in order to adjust the mask, scratch under it when nose gets runny and itchy, push back the hair.  And now we've added a soupçon of Asian to our clothing chic.


Yes, our city and state are closing everything except essentials at 8 PM.  By Sunday night everybody is expected to stay in as much as possible, when not getting groceries, going to the drug store, walking the dog, getting some exercise.  But stay at least 6 feet away from each other and wear a mask and gloves (which we don't have and cannot get, probably we were told, for months because Chief Saboteur said he's not a supply clerk, so the hell with the Defense Production Act), and people 70 and over shouldn't be going out at all unless they absolutely have to, and these are mandated to wear a mask.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Letter From Personal Friend in Hong Kong: How To Deal With Coronavirus

     . . . . From a very old dear friend who decamped some years ago to live in Hong Kong:

Yesterday at 6:48 PM ·
Letter to my US friends:

I'm writing this from Hong Kong, where we have been dealing with the coronavirus since the end of January. Hong Kong has been able to fight back the contagion, even though we have an inept, politicized government, and even though we are right on the border with China (which has stayed open through all of this!!!!). Along with Taiwan and Singapore, we have the lowest numbers of cases in Asia (only about 130 in a city of 7.5 million).

You are going through what we went through here in February. Since we're about six weeks ahead of the US on the virus timeline, I'd like to offer a few suggestions about how you can protect each other, based on what Hong Kongers have been doing.

First of all, please try not to panic! But do be ready to (at least temporarily) get very, very OCD about your personal habits. Two major areas of concern:

A: Things you touch.

Basically you don't want to touch ANYTHING with your hands that's been handled by others, and if you have to touch something like a pen, an ATM screen, a door handle, whatever, make it a habit to IMMEDIATELY clean your hands with hand sanitizer. Learn how to open doors with your body or an elbow or a foot. Just be aware of what you put your hands on and try not to touch anything.

Wash your hands several times a day, and not just at home! Get into the habit of doing hand washing "pit stops" whenever you spot a clean public restroom. (Oh--and not to be gross here, but if you do have to use a public restroom, CLOSE THE TOILET LID before flushing. The virus can spread in, um, mist)

My "kit" for when I go out now includes:

1. my own pen (so I don't have to sign things with a communal pen, and it also works for pressing elevator buttons)

2. A small squeeze bottle of alcohol-based sanitizer (it should be 70% alcohol, read the ingredient fine print before purchase and do NOT rely on sanitizer that is made with other chemicals because it isn't as effective--I think Purell is non-alcohol. If the label says "flammable" you have the good stuff.)

3. a bunch of those alcohol prep pads that come in sealed foil packets. These are so I can wipe down my iPhone from time to time, to make sure it's clean. I also use the alcohol pads to clean my computer keyboard, and my KEYS (the virus lingers on metaI). I don't trust the sanitizer wipes, most of them don't have alcohol.

4. A cotton glove--at first I was wearing gloves all the time, but it's actually easier to keep your hands clean than it is to wash contaminated stuff all the time, so I now just keep a glove for situations like a subway, where I might have to hang on to a pole, or the supermarket, where I might have to hold the handle of a basket or cart.

B: Surgical Masks

Yes, I know that our US "experts" have been saying that they are not useful, however this is the ONE practice that we think has made an enormous difference in Hong Kong. Italians didn't put on masks. Hong Kongers, Singaporeans, Taiwanese and most of the rest of Asia are doing it. Here in HK about 99 percent of people are wearing them in public places. I recommend the regular surgical mask, the paper kind. Don't bother with the N95, which is uncomfortable, and kind of overkill.

The experts all say that "masks don't work". It's true that they won't protect you from 100% of virus particles. But in a densely packed city like Hong Kong, or New York, the point of a mask is not to protect yourself--it is a community effort to protect OTHERS. It works if the majority of people cooperate and do it TOGETHER. This virus is spread by carriers who don't have any symptoms, so you have to visualize yourself as a potential carrier and wear it even if you are not feeling ill. Please consider taking up mask-wearing in crowded, closed public places. I hope it catches on in New York City. Personally I would not go on ANY public transport without a surgical mask right now.

IMPORTANT: When you take off the mask, DON"T TOUCH THE OUTSIDE, only handle it by the side loops. It's contaminated! Keep a little plastic baggie on hand to put the mask in after you use it. And DON'T RE-USE a surgical mask--use a new one every time.

Both the obsessive hand hygiene and the mask wearing sound--and at first feel--ridiculous. But seriously it is the major reason why Hong Kong has dodged this bullet against all odds. I've watched in awe these last few weeks as the community came together to protect the people, when the government would not.

The one advantage we have had in Hong Kong is that we have a decent public hospital and health care system. Anyone can go into the ER here, pay about $15 bucks, and get checked and treated and hospitalized if need be. Hospital costs about $15 a day here. What's more Hong Kong has a robust center for disease control that is transparent (we know about EVERY new case as it is discovered, and how it was introduced, and where the sick people have been living and visiting). These are things we don't have in the USA, and it is abominable that we don't. We must demand Medicare for All, nothing less will do. 


Ya.  Here we don't have tests, masks, gloves or health care.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Riposte From the Past; Repost From Elsewhere

     . . . . Performed often at CBGB's in the 1980's, when you all didn't know me.


Ned Sublette / Constance Ash (c) 1982

When the plague hits the city and the rats take a holiday
There's an underground culture growing down in the subway
When the plague hits your body the fire burns all night long
When the plague hits the city the survivors are spectacularly strong

When the plague hits the city loved ones die on the spot
When the plague hits the city doctors are taken out and shot
When the plague hits the city we fuck with our DNA
When the plague hits the city and the rats take a holiday
Everybody's disaster is somebody's good luck
Everybody's disaster is somebody's good luck

When the plague hits the city money changes hands
Funny things happen to the laws of supply and demand
The rich leave town or seal themselves away (hey hey)
When the plague hits the city and the rats take a holiday

When the plague hits the city some will do very well
There will be class mobility if you have something to sell
And when the plague hits the city the musicians who are still alive
Will have lot of work entertaining those who survive
I read in the paper that:

Everybody's disaster is somebody's good luck
Everybody's disaster is somebody's good luck
And the TV says:

How good for us the plague will be
How good for us the plague will be
How good for us the plague will be

To the people who are Failures of Fools, who let this happen, and now refuse to do a damned thing to try and stop it, and those of you who insist they will not isolate because this is fake news, may the horrors of hell come to you and never leave.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Friday the 13th: Downtown Manhattan Snapshot

     . . . . A relaxed, youngish woman, back against the Greek Bakery's window, knees up, feet perched upon the bench in front the one on which she's comfortably seated, coffee at her side, wearing a breathing mask, reading The New Yorker, enjoying this warm, sunny day.

I wanted to take her photo but that would have invaded her privacy.  Asking permission would have broken the picture.


     . . . . Growing up as a farm girl, raised in a community for whom memories of the Great Depression plus the annual reality of winter were their organizing forces, my last four weeks primarily have focused on preparation for breaks in the supply chain, isolation, quarantine, being sick at home.  This began even before Postmambo realized that ya, the For The Funk Of It tour in NOLA was going to have to be, at the least, postponed.

Watching the news from China and Italy made it clear covid-19 would arrive here, was probably already here, but we had no idea when the 'leadership' would even bother to take notice.

Fortunately our state and city were noticing and attempting to take action even by the start of the new year.  9/11 and Hurricane Sandy taught us all something. But in Washington?  We all knew they'd do nothing, blame it on others, and when they had to do something, they'd make it worse. And even worse than that, even if forced to, they wouldn't know what to do or how to do it, and then they'd lie some more.  So ....

The first supplies I bought were over the counter remedies such as Nyquil, aspirin, Riccola Drops, tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, dish detergent, chlorine bleach, lysol and chlorine hand wipes, mouthwash, toothpaste (some of which I had already, since I try to stay ahead on these items).  But even by then, due to the flu season being so bad here this year, there was no hand sanitizer.  Then came the rice, couscous, pasta, lentils, beans, tea and so on -- which again I always have on hand anyway, but never in a quantity that could hopefully get us through 3 weeks to 2 months (if it goes beyond 2 -3 months -- well! who knows?). 

We have a lot of coffee beans -- like we have a lot of rum -- because of Cuba --people there are always giving us gifts of coffee and rum. We also had a couple of packages of unopened sanitary gloves, and the masks, which are useless for anything but mild home cleaning up plaster and other repairs or accidents.

Over the following days, my usual daily shopping included something extra for storage every day, beyond the necessary for making dinner, having breakfast, doing laundry, cleaning.

We made new wills and had them notarized.

Now that the mass prep buying is in effect, we could concentrate on the more perishable, but still with a good shelf life, foods like yams, potatoes, butternut, acorn and spaghetti squashes to use now.  I am making spinach soup today, for instance.

Some I'll freeze, some I'll give out right now to two male friends and neighbors who have no idea of what to do, some I'll give to some of the people in my building who haven't had either the good fortune and privilege to do anything like this, and at this moment, can't do anything either, because all these things are missing from the shelves now.  They all have freezers, so this is going to be what I'm doing. Making soups and legume dishes for friends and neighbors. Nobody's doining a run on fresh baby spinach, packages of carrots, yams and potatoes! At least at the moment.

Other snapshots from Thursday (a particularly black day, particularly in NYC, due to the markets) and yesterday: elderly gentlemen, depressed and defeated, staring hopelessly at the fairly depleted shelves in our wonderful local Morton Williams supermarket, having not a clue as to what they should be doing.  One reached out finally, and dropped two rolls of toilet paper in his basket.  My heart broke.  These are men -- like some of our friends, who live alone, have never done meal planning or preparation in their lives, who now that they're alone eat in little restaurants or fast food, or -- I don't know. Heartbreaking that we care so little for all of us sharing our communities

Then there are these gougers, weeping for their lost investments as state and other regs against gouging kick in. For them, we shall not squeeze a tear (though, perhaps? squeezing the trigger would indeed be appropriate?:

Now, while millions of people across the country search in vain for hand sanitizer to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus, Mr. Colvin is sitting on 17,700 bottles of the stuff with little idea where to sell them.
“It’s been a huge amount of whiplash,” he said. “From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?"
They don't know what to do with these supplies, even as local hospitals and other medical facilities are without masks, sanitizer and these other essential supplies.

In Cuba, the men in the Morton Williams supermarket wouldn't be left alone and neglected to try and figure out what to do without the experience or means to do so. In Cuba hoarding would not be tolerated by either government or community.

In fact, now that two Italians  have brought the virus there, Cuba's mobilizing for it:

Nevertheless I am again, so privileged because I live where I do.

Number 1) I am not facing this alone.

Number 2) The population is generally young and prosperous, i.e. healthy. 

Number 3)  City and state have a certain amount of preparedness for emergencies -- we've all been through 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, for starters, seen what was not done at all, before or after, in the aftermath of Katrina and more lately, Maria and Puerto Rico. So we have a lot of people in government and privately, who have already been thinking on these lines. But like everywhere else, our public health systems have been shut down, reduced, over and over and over, due to the thugs in D.C. cutting budgets, and destroying anything that could help the enormous population of homeless, mentally and physically challenged.

But here the churches are mobilizing -- not for services, but for watching out for each other, looking in on elderly neighbors, providing them with food.

Even our own landlords have been proactive, hiring already two weeks ago extra help to regularly disinfect and deep clean the public spaces such as laundry room, central staircase and railings, floors and doors, mail and delivery spaces. They sent email update with pertinent phone numbers to each tenant outlining what to do if one feels in need of help. One of  the young men in our building volunteered to shop for the two elderly tenants who have compromised immune systems due to cancer -- thankfully, they are both in remission. 

Here, learning distance teaching is in effect. NYU is in spring break so there's time to learn to use Zoom, hopefully (a real pita, but hey). We are working out protocols to live together 24/7 in this tiny space in harmony, including taking long walks separately.  And fortunately, having self taught video-audio tools, there is the Cuban music documentary to work on.

As I begin and end: even though I have the 9/11 dry rasping cough that afflicts so many down here, and there are allergies, and have a bad back, am in some ways in the high risk category -- still I am truly privileged, unlike way too many others.