". . . 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

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Watchful Cooking: Cromwell and Perry Mason

     . . . . Cromwell (1970) streaming on amazon prime.

Brit film with fine cast of actors from the British theater, such as Richard Harris (Oliver Cromwell) and Alec Guinness (Charles I complete with stutter, but far too tall!), who emote in 19th C theatrical mode (hey, it beats the mumble core mode). Though not adapted from a stage production like Becket (1964) and A Man For All Seasons (1966), it sounds like those international box office winners. Queen Henrietta Maria, played by Dorthy Tutin (ya, never heard of her either) what sort of inflection is she bringing to her English? Not that of a native French person speaking English as a second language.

Historically it’s ridiculous, just starting with Oliver Cromwell as a man of the people representin’ for democracy. Film remains dear to many English, because they saw it as children, and because of its lavish production values and gloriously overblown re-enactment of the major battles of the English Civil War. It lacks characterization and narrative drive, as well as good lines, – i.e. a thin script. The film is about pageantry and impressive visuals, not political history.  However, period spectacle does make for watching enjoyment all by itself for my sort of viewer who appreciates that sort of thing.

     . . . . Perry Mason (2020) season 1? HBO Max Original

Overuses the tiresome by now visual trope of evoking classic noir era Los Angeles – the scenes dressed and lighted so murky and mustardy and muddy in color and lighting as to be barely visible. Otherwise I rather like it, having watched the first episodes back-to-back.  For one thing it includes chicanos, which the 30’s LA noir seldom did, as far as I recall from my dad’s tremendous number of boxes in the attic containing crime-and-detection novels going all the way back to his own father’s youth.

It also contains Tatiana Maslany (who was brilliant in Orphan Black, as so many clones, each individual and different from the other) as a the charismatic radio celebrity faith healer of a god-for-profit church cult, sort of like the historical era’s Aimee Semple McPhersonAn Aimee Semple McPherson type appears as Sharon Falconer in Sinclair Lewis’s satire of  the USA's peculiar Faith for Money figures, Elmer Gantry (1927). So Maslany gets to act, again!

Matthew Rhys, made famous by the long-running series, The Americans, plays Perry Mason. So far, I am not liking Rhys’s Mason.  But then, once it was clear that The Americans was making heroes of Russian spies working to bring down the USA, I ditched that show, because it seemed utterly insane to be pulling for that!  And guess what? it was true!  it happened! 


     . . . . Made potato salad for dinner tonight, which somehow took me the entire afternoon, starting around 1 PM, not finishing until 5 PM.  First rendering the lard out of the bacon.  Boiling the eggs. Peeling and cooking the potatoes.  Chopping celery and pickles. Slicing the potatoes. Slicing the eggs. Mixing them together with some vinegar and pepper and mayonaisse.  Why so long?  Even though I washed everything in-between each step, including the heavy big chicken skillet with lid, in which I rendered out the bacon?  Dealing with bacon grease is complicated, to make sure none of it goes down the drain.  So that was quite a few steps / procedures right there!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Gay Pride Weekend, Weather, Refugees and Immigrants, & History

     . . . . Hot, very. Not so sunny though, and the predicted t-storm has arrived, thank goodness.  We've had no rain for all of June.  Drought has arrived I think.


Nothing can stop LGBTQ from Priding the last weekend of June in NYC. Big gathering going on at Washington Square Park, in concert with a BLM protest as well. Funny.  All was peaceful.  Then cops arrived.  Squadrons of cops.


It has been commented at Charlie Stross's place, where many commentators are hooked into EU news far more widely and closely than I am, that the EU policy of excluding entry of US tourists isn't so much about the plague as it is to keep US refugees from coming to Europe. Which ends up being quite a lot the same thing, as NYers ran dragging the virus with them to Florida, etc., and now are running back to NY dragging covid-19 with them this direction.  But the EU certainly don't want the MAGA mad cohort coming in to swell their own numbers of crazy.  But more than that, the way the US has just stopped even trying to deal with the pandemic, and that this huge number of deathcultists are screaming that mask-wearing is satan's signature, things are going to be so insane here by January -- not to mention shortages and all the rest -- that again, merkins will want to hide from it in Europe.  Not having that! the EU says.


Finished Alaric the Goth: An Outsider’s History of the Fall of Rome (2020) by Douglas Boin. Maybe I have a handle finally on what the differences are between a hun, a goth and a vandal. The book's structure and organization was confusing and the content felt very thin, despite the author's hitting the keys relentlessly on his theme, that Alaric's ultimate reason for bringing and army into Rome for 3 days was that Rome was disdainful of outsiders and immigrants, denying advancement and acceptance of him even in the army to which he'd given so much. The reviews made the book sound better and more important than it was. But then what do we know about either Alaric or the era that begins toward the close of the 4th C A.D. opening into the 5th and 6th centuries? My real take-away is that the initiation of what we call(ed) the Dark Ages comes when the Christians in the west are dominating Western Rome and tolerance of any kind they WILL NOT TOLERATE! To be sure the author didn't say that, that is what I am taking away.

Now I've begun another history (besides the ongoing ones that are huge and that I don't read in every day): Charles King's 2014 work, Midnight at the Pera Palace: The Birth of Modern Istanbul. This is another of Constantinople-Istanbul's many eras of many diverse immigrants renewing the city.  It's also Jazz Age Istanbul, which Istanbul had enthusiastically, complete with myriads of jazz bands.  Agatha Christie saw it all, visiting Istanbul several times in this era. She did ride the Orient Express, inspiring one of her most famous works, Murder on the Orient Express, among other works of hers that are set at least partly in Istanbul. This is the era in which the Orient Express is created, the surprise and awe of all of Europe.  As per usual, I am struck hard all over again by the mirroring of Venice and Constantinople-Istanbul, not only in their architecture, but their trajectories as trading empires and their intimately shared past.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Yesterday's E-Letter Answered Today

     . . . . Hello, our dear C!  You know just how to get me laughing:
"The robins try to talk to me and tell me to  go to the garden and dig around so they can get worms, they  have eaten all my strawberries and have started on the blueberries."
So like robins!  Thank goodness they didn't get all the strawberries; for me personally, it's been a grand 6 weeks of strawberries. I think I'm eating at least two pints of them a week, with other berries and nuts and yogurt.  My breakfast-lunch, and it keeps me going until about 5, when, like the robins, my stomach wishes to start on something else. This is inconvenient because we're not really scheduling dinner until 6:30 - 7:30 PM, pretty much as we have for years.

It's been crazy around here with all the Protests -- we're right in the middle of all the marches coming up out of Brooklyn, coming down from Harlem -- all heading one way or another before or after to Washington Square Park, City Hall Park and so on.  We were ground zero for the really bad weekend of looting, with fires and the rest.  That was scary.  And now everyone is acting as though covid's over, and the people coming in from everywhere to drunkenly howl cheek by jowl, w/o masks or distance, and keeping the vulnerables inside -- the restaurants have taken all the sidewalk space, the parking lanes, a lot of STREET space and the small parks for their tables and bars. There is no where for a pedestrian to keep distance -- and bikers are also riding straight at one on both streets and sidewalks.  At some point I expect drunks and drivers will duke it out . . . . 

El V, B and I go out after 11 PM, to meet in one of the little parks here, with masks, gloves, our own stools, wine and glasses and sanitizer, and sit 6 feet away and chat.  It's really nice. We are very close and very long time friends.  We know he's as careful as we are, and vice versa.  I cook and give B stuff, he bakes and gives us stuff, he's always bringing items from Trader Joe's that I might be out of like onions -- how many onions I use a week is rather astounding. And so has become my spice and herb collection for that matter!

For Juneteenth the pastors, black and white, of a consortium of churches in New England, asked us to conduct a two hour teach in via Zoom around The American Slave Coast.  This was recorded with the pastors asking us questions that we tried to answer, for them to show their congregations this last Friday.  It was a rather exhausting thing since el V and I had to be in a single Zoom box, as having both our computers up and running meant having two microphones open at the same time, and that caused a feedback loop. So we shut mine down.  But as I was in el V's window, which was supposed to be only for a single person, I couldn't move, because, when I did shift, even a tiny bit, my 'portrait' kept blinking in and out, like some sort of weird teleportation action.  That was hard, physically.

El V's continuing the production and editing of the video shot in 2019 and January of 2020 of religious ceremonies.  He's taught himself how to use the programs necessary to do all this -- which is very difficult.  But he's amazing smart and talented, which once again he just demonstrated.  He's and I work together to keep the domestic situation operating.  Before, he was gone so much that even when he was home there was no point in him paying attention to all that.  Now that we're fairly closed down and can't travel and everything is much more difficult and time-consuming due to safety, he's pitched right in. We've been so lucky with whom we are living with.

El V has experienced some spooky health concerns, but they are getting resolved at least, with this reopening, meaning he's been able to have tests, CAT scans and sonograms, and we have learned that nothing is life threatening, i.e. not tumors or infected lymph nodes and so on.

Then my debit card number got hacked, as we learned last weekend from an inquiry text from the bank regarding a charge's legitimacy as we were enjoying a splendid Saturday night dinner. We checked the bank account, and since the 17th the number was racking up charges all over the country!  We reported it to the bank, we reported it to the police, the bank reported it to the police, el V got a temp card and a print out of all the charges, and I already have my new card. Thank goodness, because someone tried to use it with a money transfer site -- 5 figures worth, which would have emptied our account all right! But it looks as of today, that that charge never went through.  

How they got my debit card number I don't know.  I haven't even used the card in months, and certainly not since sometime in April when I used it, over the phone to the service that fills the cash card key with which we can turn on the washers and dryers in the basement. But it certainly spoiled that rarity of perfect balance of peace and contentment and enjoyment that we had been experiencing up to that text message.

The weather has been wonderful until now with the scorching heat having come in.  Nor has it rained for days, after at least two years when it rained nearly every day, and sometimes for several days in a row, and there wouldn't be sun for days.  We could use rain now.

I'm glad you're so well, C.  I wish we could be sitting in your garden like we used to. Dinner parties, o, like you, how we miss dinner parties!  But I think we're kinda stuck with this, at least we here, until deep into next year at the least, since deathcultchief and his cultists are racing around the country and spiking all the new cases by the thousands. The cases all around the country are spiking as badly as they did here in April. 

Yet everyone is acting as though covid's over, and the people coming in from everywhere to stand in place, drunkenly howl, cheek by jowl, w/o masks or distance, and keeping vulnerables inside. The restaurants have taken all the sidewalk space, the parking lanes, a lot of STREET space and the small parks for their tables and bars.  At some point I expect drunks and driver will duke it out . . . .

For another thing, the cases among the under thirty demographic are spiking the highest, and that age group is everywhere, including here, and nowhere, including here, are they practicing any of the safety protocols for themselves or others. They are now the superspreaders. 

The Young are of course among us all, wherever we are. They are where we / you are. And as Young will do / do do, as we did, they move around a lot -- to and from parents, back to apartment, to lover's place in another state, back home here, to visit a friend in another city, back home here. Despite what these governors think they can do to stop it.

In another couple weeks, hoo boy.  Fortunately, it seems people in the Protests aren't sick or getting each other sick either.  They wear masks, and they keep moving, and they are outdoors -- unlike the political yahoos cheering for the man who can send them to the hospital and if they come out alive, they come out accompanied by a million dollar bill.

But [Your Town] continues to thrive, to continue healthy, with the actions of its wonderful residents like you.  I'm so glad there is a [Your Town], that has such wonderful people in it, and is so beautiful.

Love, Us

P.S. Cuba, by the way, is CRUSHING the virus.  Alas though, they are having serious food shortages. .

Friday, June 12, 2020

Horses Have Their Part FOR Black Lives Matter

     . . . . Horses continue to do their part for Black Lives Matter, as opposed to the horses coerced by police against Black Lives Matter.
How one woman on a horse at an Oakland protest became a symbol for revolution‘You can’t ignore a big, old pretty horse with a black woman on it,’ says Brianna Noble

Since she brought Dapper Dan to downtown Oakland on May 29, she’s inspired black cowboys and cowgirls throughout the country to join protests.

Though somehow Owen Wister*, author of The Virginian (1902), which takes place in Wyoming, and his best buddy, Theodore Roosevelt, who proudly claimed the title of Cattleman and Rancher to describe himself, and both wrote extensively about "the cowboy", somehow they both managed to not notice there were black cowboys. Theodore Roosevelt went so far as to say, invoking his slaveowning Georgia family, that being a "Cattleman" was as good as being a plantation owner.  Owen Wister's Virginian flatly stated that the West was "white man's country."

Judge Henry, the Rich Feller in Wister's novel, who like Theodore Roosevelt, in North Dakota, owns the vast kingdom that he calls his ranch, which is made up of public lands to great extent, flatly explains to the effete eastern school teacher, that all this land was made for his exploitation, and when he's extracted all the animals, grass and minerals, they will just move on.  

Explains a lot about this country, doesn't it.

Thus these stories of Black Lives Matter riders, both men and women, are particularly important parts of correcting our erroneous ideas of history, both of who 'settled' the West and who made western culture.


*  Wister was one of the children English actress, Fanny Kemble, lost, when she left her husband, Pierce Butler, perhps at the richest slaveowner in the USA, appalled when she learned what slavery was.  Some years later she published (1863Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation 1838-1839. This was done at the urging of abolitionists in the hope this account of a slave plantation would mobilize British opinion against the CSA.

During the course of researching and writing The American Slave Coast, we got to visit St. Simon's Island, where the plantation Fanny Kemble lived on, was situated.  Bits and pieces of it are still there.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Black Lives Matter, The Young, and Activism

     . . . . The BLM Protests seem to be having salutary political effect across the board, actively uniting us, of all heritages and conditions in life, in a way not seen in the USA in decades.  May this be only the foundation for permanent change and progress, Please Universe!

Expanding the hopefulness of the moment: 

. . . . We are Informed As What To Do About Racism.

As each succeeding generation of the Young, bless their hearts! (and I mean this sincerely) invent sex, so do The Young invent social justice and activism!

Our friends' children, who are in their 20's, are sending their parents and their parents' friends open letters on how to listen to People of Color, understand that all POC are not the same in culture and experience and attitude, to not get angry when called out for racial behavior, and not to hide behind, "But I have a black friend." Speak out when injustice and insensitivity and ignorance are displayed among our friends. Also, "understand that there is racism in the music industry and that everyone has profited from black music and racism."

This isn't really funny, I suppose, but we all cannot help but at least, to enjoy the lecture. Starting with the content of the lecture, the very words generally used, we've been hearing this -- and hopefully learning this -- since we were younger than the kids are now.

Still, you know, I'm down with their advice! It was good advice back then, and it's still good advice now.

Though and additional bit of advice should be addressed to we white people: Do these things, including speaking out against racist action and systemic abuse to our friends. But! Do not make it about yourself. Do Not request / expect special recognition and gratitude for being a very special good white person from all and sundry. Being decent person should be typical behavior, not about making anti-racism about oneself, and getting awarded gold stars and stickers.

It's the equivalent of a husband noticing finally that his wife is working constantly all day, every day, while he doesn't do a thing to assist her/him.

He says, "Honey, wow, you work so hard!  And now I've earned special husband points for noticing how hard you work."

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Lord. How Long. How Long. In the UK Too

     . . . . In an entry Elsewheres, I concluded with "Lord. How long. How Long."  To my astonishment, people asked what that means.   

  . . . . People with a religious background or any experience of protestant, Jewish, African American recognize it immediately.  It's part of US literary tradition by now, in many parts, even recognized within canon.  This is the rhetorical Introduction and Refrain of passionate lamentation over inexplicable suffering and oppression, begging an explanation from God,  of Why, Lord? why at all? Why to me? to us? and for how long, Lord, will you allow this to go on?

Versions of "How Long" are everywhere in the Old Testament, whether in the Book of Habakkuk or the Psalms. It is in protestant hymns and prayers, it is naturally, particularly prevalent in African American religious tradition, whatever the mode of expression, and beyond that has been heard even in pop music made by African Americans and covered by whites, yea, even in the UK -- even when the lamentation is about another band member playing off on the side in secret with another band, as with Ace's one hit wonder.*

So, yes, among the lamentation of African Americans -- and British people of color too, who are at least as religious out of the protestant traditions as in the US, to speak "Lord. How long. How long,' as a response to a white guy doing absolutely nothing for racial justice except to say, ya! go risk your life and health -- go go go! and then demand cookies from god himself (who he is currently referring to as karma points!) for typing that in the comfort of his comfy home and bank account, far far far away from anything remotely threatening, whether the pandemic, eviction, or police brutality, is something very many people immediately 'get', so to speak.

But not this tone deaf white guy -- who also poo pooed  Covid-19 as a cozy disaster that would over in two weeks. Thus, this traditional African American expression in prayer, in sermon-oratory -- see Dr. Martin Luther King

and music, secular and popular, and has been since the early days of slavery -- is appropriate.  How long, Lord, must we put up with clueless complacent white guys  typing clueless, complacent words, and then demanding a reward?

* Another example of how African American traditions get reworked into commentary upon what is happening right this minute can be heard in the soundtracks to both Coppola's Apocalypse Now, and Spike Lee's imminent release, Da 5 Bloods, which comments on our conditions both back in political and film history -- Vietnam -- and that history commenting on contemporary events.


The BLM Protest movement is indeed global. The monument to African slave trader, Edward Colston, in Bristol, on which Bristol's modern fortune was founded, was pulled down. The protest in London by the US embassy is enormous!

With horses featuring in stories about the clashes between cops both here 

and the UK, with the horses and the cops in armor, while a pandemic rages, I have no trouble re-visioning the uprisings in the 14th century in England,

particularly the largest, longest one, the Watt Tyler Revolt, or, the Peasants' Uprising, against Richard II -- particularly directed at his uncle, Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt -- whose newly built palace, reputed to be the most exquisite in Europe, was not looted, it was destroyed, deliberately, every part of it, from marble wall facings to the smallest bibelot,  ground to shards and dust, and then burned.  That's how tired the people were of waiting for justice, dignity and food for So Long. 

So. Long.  So. Very. Long.

Friday, June 5, 2020

It Always Comes Back / It Never Changes

     . . . . El V did The World That Made New Orleans Zoom birthday party last night, though as the party giver and her husband, whose birthday it was, are in California, it was afternoon in their backyard for them, and for their friends in their backyards.

It was so good -- for them, for him and thus for me.  Different faces and voices! A chance to talk about something else!  Things felt almost normal again.  This came after the horrors that Wednesday, and yes, mostly yesterday too, were.  I was just sick from it, and then yesterday I was sick from being sick.  The Zoom party pulled me back together. I slept pretty good then, last night.

Every time it seems we're plateauing it gets worse. And again, it is black bodies, black voices, black courage, who are out there, saying and doing what must be said and done, while I remain comfortably in our privileged white isolation.  History continues to go round and round, returning to where it begins.

But, hey, the stock market soars, so all's right with somebodies' world, and so what that the cops who wail on those whose worlds are not all right, and never have been, that's just how it has been, always has been, and always shall be, amen, because it stand between 'Them and the only thing that has value, that we value, OUR PROPERTY.  Never forget that for long periods what was meant by "a man of virtue" was, "a man of property." Property = virtue.  After all Our stock market and Your economy are not one and the same.  [ Current Reading Aloud is Riot. Strike. Riot. (2016) by the insufferable Joshua Clover.  It's stuffed with political economic theory, which he pontificates provocatively, sometimes erroneously, but always with a lively mind.  Like so many works that are published right before a momentous event and change, one cannot help but speculate fruitlessly as to how he might have written it if writing it right now.]

How can one be an historian, an historian of US history and slavery, and not be sick to her stomach? We're right back to where we were in the 1950's, the 1920's, the 1890's, the 1870's and all the years before that to 1619. Mirroring the 1850's this racial hatred too is the wielded means and the presented motivation for a coup on the nation.

So, since we wrote a book about the history of this from the beginning of it in our nation, up until that successful effort to go to war to take over the country for the benefit of the Slaveocracy haters, a group of pastors have asked us to do a Zoom discussion with their congregants about the material in The American Slave Coast, next Wednesday -- a current version of 'getting out of the house'.

     . . . . Here is an interview and photos with our friend K up at Jumel Terrace. It begins with a Forward by the interviewer,  that says better what I am feeling these last days better than I do, and who, being African American, has far greater moral authority and reason to feel and say it:
"I am so tired...."
...The black community’s determination and ingenuity to thrive and prosper in the face of adversity should be seen as nothing new – but it’s the continuous road blocks of systematic racial oppression and suppression that feel very, very old... 

Our dear friend is living right there, in the center of the Harlem Renaissance; his neighbors are their generation of black intellectuals and artists, as were their own parents and their neighbors, going all the way back to before the 1920's. They tend to meet most days and hang out, arguing, discussing and exchanging views, on his front stoop.  I.e. he lives in a real neighbhood, a real community, unlike us, down here which is dead fred, now that the real estate developers drove out our community for the sake of businesses that catered to tourists almost exclusively -- and now there are no tourists, and not even the NYU students.
The truth is – and Thometz knew it – was that he wasn’t going to be selling any of those books, at least not to any walk-in customers in 2015. He saw the bookshop as his own protest, to challenge and confront passersby about race. Situated in a historically-black neighbourhood, he was also aware of the difficulty for locals to accept the idea of a white man owning and selling rare books about black history. “I’m not naïve, I know that there are some people in the neighborhood talking about me saying ‘this white guy thinks he knows everything’. But you know, I understand that. The white people, I don’t understand as well.”

     . . . . This, from today's LRB daily email offering from their archive; the year it was published (2000 -- another age!) I requested the anthology for Christmas, and which shows that even Churchill, in the darkest days of WWII, sought out inspiration from black writers.:
...The Harlem Renaissance has been overlooked in many accounts of American Modernism, but the new Norton Anthology of American Literature gives it a good deal of space....

     . . . . As addendum to our adage from the song we wrote way back in the 1980's, and el V's band performed at CBGB's  "When The Plague Hits the City," -- everybody's disaster is somebody's good luck --  this has been good for book biz, which so very often denies black writers space and support, even while profiting from their suffering.
To paraphrase, my agent was pushing back a meeting necessary for the completion and timely release of my book — which is about how black people can apply the lessons we derive from traumatic experiences to our careers — so that white people could reflect on how to help black people. I countered, insisting that our meeting take place as scheduled because black people’s lives are in danger, and I shouldn’t have to sacrifice momentum on a book written for black people because white people are performing empathy.
     . . . . Everything about the action, thinking, language, rhetoric and behavior of white supremacists and racial injustice never goes away because we, as a nation of white people, cover it up comes back, Part the Umptyth -- shades of the Slaveocracy surveillance and control of the Post Office, monitoring and confiscating and burning any materials that even contained the word, 'slave' -- including novels, and not just Uncle Tom's Cabin, that screed penned by satan.

Law Enforcement Seizes Masks Meant To Protect Anti-Racist Protesters From COVID-19
The masks, reading “Stop killing Black people,” were meant to quell the spread of the coronavirus, which has disproportionately affected Black Americans.
... The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) spent tens of thousands of dollars on the masks they had planned to send all over the country. The first four boxes, each containing 500 masks, were mailed from Oakland, California, and were destined for Washington, St. Louis, New York City and Minneapolis, where on May 25 a white police officer killed George Floyd, a 46-year-old handcuffed Black man, setting off a wave of protests across the country.
But the items never left the state. The U.S. Postal Service tracking numbers for the packages indicate they were “Seized by Law Enforcement” and urge the mailer to “contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for further information.”
And, then, you know, Rand Paul, blocking the anti-lynching legislation in the Senate -- Rand Paul who is such a despicable person his neighbor tried to kill him.  Anyway, shades of the entire history of the USA -- even FDR didn't even dare try for anti-lynching law -- too politically dangerous for him, as he continuously explained to his wife, Eleanor, who just as relentlessly kept pressuring him to do it.

The First Lady lost that battle, but she never gave up her war for equality and against systemic injustice.  We can't give up either. It is our job, our obligation, and, as John Quincy Adams declared, "my moral duty as deemed by Almighty God."

Monday, June 1, 2020

June 1st, 2nd Part

     . . . . The desire to Know, first hand -- sent us outside two hours before curfew. We have returned within 45 minutes. It's now 10 to 10 PM.

Serious action up at 14th Street; 95% males, white and black, 25 and under, They Say.

The walk was scary from the moment we set outdoors. Due to the many beatings as a child, my instinct is always when I sense violence is to get the fuck outta there.

Small huddles and larger groups of people -- some right outside our door, changing clothes, from one set of designer athletic wear, to another set -- and walking along the streets of luxury retail outlets -- some of which amazingly still have no boarding, no anything.

OTOH, we saw some weedy white guys with baseball bats standing around too, and howling about no respect for the police, and "Violence big time tonight."

All of these people were without a clue, but looking for opportunity. White guys not wearing masks, black guys wearing masks.

Saw no cops though. Just helicopters.

I was spooked, though I wanted to See for myself.

Then there were Others, just sitting at the park tables and benches on our block, chatting away, eating pizza. They too were without a clue.

I just don't know.

Bad guys are planning bad things. These aren't the protesters of the Community Strikes Back.

May Went Out With Bang and Fire

     . . . . Tearing off the May page of the wall calendar this morning, a yellow sticky slapped on the page back in February was revealed – we were to be at the Spoleto festival this coming weekend, seeing Rhiannan Giddens, who has been shouting out Cuba and Its Music for such long time. It was part of my birthday present that el V had planned back in February. I'd completely forgotten about that, as I have just about everything from Before.

     . . . . Didn’t sleep until very late last night due to helicopters, sirens, fire trucks, protesters and rioters and looters (these last three are not in the same category) going on all night.

Surges of action, back and forth from up in Brooklyn (until the bridges were closed), and down from the north in Midtown, from the east in Union Square, and us right in the middle of it.  Already by 2 AM there were multiple fires and smash-and-grabs. It's the fire -- and there was one set on the Prince Street corner a block above us -- that have us scared    

 . . . . Returned from walkabout checking out the neighborhood. Haven't seen so many cops on these blocks in -- well, ever -- as are on the blocks today. It seemed to be about half and half of masked vs maskless people out and about.

People filling U Hauls with their apartment goods -- moving out, when at this time of the year the U Hauls would be bringing in the possessions of all the wealthy young students moving in.  

Bars, restaurants, cafés, coffee shops, yogurt shops, etc. that from last weekend through Saturday had built out and blocked off all the sidewalks and much of the streets for normal pedestrians, today retracted that in favor of boarding up their places and constructing more security.

All the stores finally boarding up. I was puzzled all along that they hadn't done it.  Looks as though it was Prince Street, with all those high end, desirable types of shops from Prada to Coach, from Chanel to Guicci, from Apple to NARS, to David Yerman got trashed from Broadway on the east, to 6th Ave. on the west.

The people doing these looting its aren't part of the protests, aren't protesters at all.  They are gangs who know what they are doing, at least when it came to the luxury stores. They came in vehicles, for one thing, and a lot of these vehicles have out-of-state plates, according to the journalists who were there -- who threatened and attacked too for daring to record.

These criminals are using the ongoing tragedy to expand their profession of breaking and entering and grabbing for profit.  And, ya, these do look to be people of color, already dressed in the most up-to-date expensive, designer athletic gear. But they are not the same frustrated, angry, desperate people setting cop cars on fire -- aided and abetted I will bet good money by provocateurs, not to mention the cops themselves (I put protesters, rioters and looters in separate categories).  The looters don't have that kind of guts of protesters, and certainly don't share The Community Strikes Back moral backbone.

I'm betting the looters will be back here tonight -- though I hope I'm wrong. [edited to add mayor de Blasio has just imposed an 11 PM curfew; his daughter was among the protesters arrested last night.]  That would make 4 straight nights of no sleep -- as if that's the suffering on the level of every front line we can think of which protesters are suffering, along with the relentless erasure of justice, rights, dignity and hope.  In the meantime, deathcultpsychopathchief cowers and whines in the White House bunker.  The Protesters aren’t letting up in D.C. may the Lord bless and keep them*And even to protest the takeover of the US by the Biggest Looter, it takes African Americans to again put their bodies at risk to both covid-19 and arrest and beating and murder -- and we benefit. As awful as we believe things to be, we are all too comfortable, even now, in the pandemic, to do anything.

Saw some big burly types get out of a very fine ride with Texas plates, and just walk around our street looking at places. I think looting (as opposed to getting necessary supplies denied, like water and insulin) awful, but it sure as hell isn't a surprise or shock (though while it is going on, it's, well, scary). Looting, sanctioned and otherwise -- see accounts of London during the Bubonic Plague -- though then the booty tended to kill the looters too -- has always happened in plagues and wars and by now with all the disasters this nation has been going through just from climate change, the organized thieves have lots of experience of knowing when to arrive in a place of massive disruption.

Thank goodness E's latest CARE package of THC:CBD products arrived this morning! I need some soothing.  Our wine delivery just arrived this afternoon too -- while a lot of liquor stores got trashed, ours thank goodness was spared. But today, as well as their steel shutters, they are boarding up over the shutters too. And sitting in the back and in the vast cellar with their shotguns -- in company with some of their male relatives. Their supply of French wine is vastly depleted because of those embargos deathcultpsychopathchief slammed on French products.  So how much longer will I get wine?  People are reporting that in a lot cities with the liquor stores looted and the remaining ones anywhere nearby closed and boarded up and stock removed, they can't get a drink now.

After being thrilled Wednesday at having moved back to Manhattan -- and bringing us some organic, free range meat, personally butchered by the farmer (which means I probably won't need any more for a lot of the summer, particularly as I tend to quit eating meat all together in the summer) -- yesterday afternoon P and K went back to the Family Big House on Long Island Sound. 

     . . . . I didn't think I'd been losing any more weight since about the middle of April when I was able to start exercising again and calmed down. I'm eating very well, resumed drinking wine in May, and despite the workouts, since I go out hardly at all, I didn't think there would be any more weight loss. El V is still losing weight, very slowly, gradually, in a very healthy manner, but I thought surely I'd hit plateau for how we're living.

But as of this morning I had to pull out a smaller sizes, packed away from back in the days when I was recovering from being truly way too thin. What's up with that? Anyway, I put on some gold, shiny earrings and a gold chain, before going out (masked -- guess I'll never wear lipstick again?). Tonight, after dinner, I'm painting my toenails.  It's barely 60 today, but by the weekend it will be in the 80's. It's gonna be a long hot summer, one way and another, and I'm ready to live it through!

*   Interesting that across the country all these protests are local, since people now can't travel easily -- unlike the looters and the provocateurs to riot and looting.