". . . 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

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.  😸

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