". . . 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, July 29, 2020

Every Step Forward, at Least Two Steps Back: Welfare For Capitalists; C-19 #s Leap Again Regionally

     . . . . We have received directly into our bank account welfare for capitalists, for which we applied Monday night, got rated as qualified to apply for the next morning, were approved that same night, and the money arrived this afternoon. About 36 hours.

In the meantime a single mom working as a cashier at Walmart must spend months working on an application for food stamps and then will be turned down. Unemployment weekly payments must be eliminated because some people might possibly be making more money with unemployment than from their previous employers, who refuse to pay more to have them return -- and capitalism CANNOT HAVE THIS.

Inequality is Tragically in play.
     . . . . re-reading John M. Barry's Rising Tides and Influenza in preparation for Fall Project.

     . . . .  In the meantime, here, the Horrible Numbers seem to be inevitable to return here, due to, well, we all know why. 
4 p.m. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Wednesday said the state recorded 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last four days – numbers comparable to what the state was seeing a month ago. Another 489 people tested positive in the last 24 hours, the sixth consecutive day where case counts topped 400.
Murphy warned residents to continue to take precautions despite looser restrictions on businesses and gatherings.
“We can’t go backwards, we can’t afford to go backwards,” Murphy said, during a press conference.
The governor partly blamed the spike in new cases to crowded house parties that have caused at least 125 new infections.
"When there are hundreds of people crammed into a house where the air conditioning system is simply blowing the air around and when people are not wearing face coverings, you have also invited coronavirus to your party,” he said.
Several teenage house parties in Middletown, which happens to be Murphy’s hometown, have been linked to 55 cases among teenagers ages 14 to 19. In Long Beach Island, social gatherings by lifeguards were blamed for 35 cases in Harvey Cedars and Surf City. Two graduation parties were also found to be the source of infections: one in Westfield resulted in seven cases, while another in Cape May County led to 46 cases.
On top of that, police this weekend broke up a party of more than 700 people at a Jackson mansion AirBnb.
State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli urged residents to wear a face covering and social distance even if they gather outdoors. Outdoor gatherings in the state are currently capped at 500 people, while indoor gatherings are capped at 100 people or 25 percent capacity, whichever is less.
 Was thinking of getting a hair cut.  But these numbers ....  Also in the last days have spent time in places where they are other people, who I don't know: doctor's offices, a bank, the car service to our anniversary party.  I think I'll wait another 14 days before trying to schedule an appointment, if at all all.  Discussed this with my stylist this afternoon.  I trust her.  But her husband works at the VA.  He, like she, has been tested frequently, but --

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Anniversary Party

     . . . . Yesterday was our  anniversary.  A perfect July day – appropriately hot but not too hot.  Phone calls and emails of congratulations arrived throughout the day. They were very much appreciated.

Then, off we went, with dear B, uptown to K&C's.  I marveled looking out the window of the service car, at the Hudson River and the city’s River - Highway greenery, extraordinarily lush and intensely, well, green. Or perhaps it's just that I've not been anywhere in 6 months except to where I can walk, so it was all new to my eyes in a way it wouldn't be in a normal summer.  That this isn't a normal summer was obvious because all the greenery of the center lane berms was overgrown and shaggy as our hair. 

Thus the photos K  took of us all last night in their courtyard-garden are all more treasured.  Their yard was beautiful  and peaceful. We reveled in being able to sit out under giant trees' canopy, within so much greenery and not worry about who was approaching us from behind, front or side.  As the evening deepened the fire flies appeared.  Finally so did The Cat reappear, who resented this invasion of how he likes things to be: only his two servants and himself, with no one else around to divert attention from Him.  Then The Cat remembered: O I like these people too -- as long as they go away again!

It being Saturday night in July, their street, filled with residents whose heritage hails from the Dominican Republic generally, or African American, have a party.  We could hear the music blasting and we enjoyed it, did not resent it.  And, thoughtfully, the music stopped at 10 PM.  We were home by about 11:30 -- which was early for us when having a party with K and C.  In Other Times we'd probably not have rolled back here until 3 or 4 in the AM.

C made the very best Salad Nicoise with salmon --  I went to sleep wondering how C got the green beans to taste the way they did -- and woke up wondering the same.  K grilled boar sausage;  there was cold shrimp with a hot mustard rémoulade.  Also cold duck, sliced very thin with foi gras and crisp crackers.

El V had brought a bottle of good champagne, and that, shared among us, was dessert.  We didn't want to leave, they wanted us to stay, but leave we did, when the car service returned to pick us up at 10:30.

To have such friends and have them in such times is a blessing.  There was no one else I would have wanted to be with on this occasion, the first social occasion, since early in March.

The West Side Highway had heavy traffic beyond what I expected, though not what it would have been Before. Before it would have taken far longer than 20 minutes driving between here and K&C's on a Saturday night.  All along the Hudson River, on both sides of the highway, people were packed when we went up -- and there were even more people, and still more flowing toward the River, when we came home.

The crescent moon was dark red-orange, hanging above the Statue of Liberty, throwing its light on the river water.

Back in our neighborhood, the car couldn't drive to our street because the street was blocked off to traffic and it was filled with tables and packed closely with people who didn't know each other, and who did not wear masks.  One fears we will not be able to repeat this evening again for about a year . . . .

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

July Has Been, Continues To Be, Not the Best Month But! Still! Reading Books!

   . . . . So much going on, with medical appointments, getting papers notarized, strategizing for a Big Project in the fall, continuing to do production work on the Cuban religious ceremonies and rituals, getting items to make our incarceration rather more comfortable and organized, my phone dying, trying to get the new one activated, which has culminated in our decision to change services (I still have my old 212 number, though I am clueless as to how to use this new one) and ordering me a new computer, which will provide even more fun than my new phone.

A lot of of this has meant Going Out Into Places That Have Other People Present.  At the moment NYC still seems to be doing fairly well with the rate of cases and deaths -- though for how much longer as outsiders and so many right here refuse to follow safety protocols at all.  Though the Governor has been forced to shut down some places and even pull their liquor licenses as the gatherings were utterly out of control.

So we've been trying to catch up with all the medical check-ups and treatments that got put on hold for so long.  I keep feeling this month has been the interregnum of Covid-19 spread in NYC, so we must rush to cram in as much preparation and prevention as possible.

Most of all, we've been working out the protocols and travel for our anniversary party on Saturday.  Which will be in the courtyard of uptown friends and include two other people besides our hosts and ourselves -- the recommended maximum of a gathering even outside. They are providing the lite meal.  We can enter and go directly to a bathroom to disinfect and wash, and from there a few more steps and we're outside.  There will be fans sitting about as well.  It will be the first time for us all to be looking on faces that aren't the same faces (presumably masked for at least part of it!)  we've been looking at 24/7 since March.  That's a party.  A real one. O my!


As it has been since 2016, France and her history, prehistoric, Celtic, Roman, Gothic, Renaissance to the present is my real escape. The escape during this interregnum as been the Chief Bruno series by Martin Walker, set in and around Saint-Denis, a small semi-fictional town in the Dordogne of France's Périgord.  This region has been host to both Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons, the Celts, the Romans, the Basques, the Catalans, the Goths, even the Merovingians (though they didn't penetrate meaningfully the south of Gaul, as they did the north and midi). This is the region honey combed with caves, some of which contain prehistoric art, such as in the stunning Lascaux. All this history enters into the series at some point, existing simultaneously with more recent history of WWI, the Resistance of WWII, and what is going on right now, whether the international monerd shenanigans of the wine and real estate corporations, PETA attacks on farmers in order to force France from the making and selling of foie gras -- anciently the cheap, dependable, filling meal of the region's poor  farmers and a usual addition to every one else's meals, the theft of antiques, racial and immigration and religious questions.  Whatever the contemporary focus is is though, murder is at the fore.

Frequently, Bruno reflects with great satisfaction that he is living where family groups have been successfully living longer than anywhere else in Europe. Thus it is to be expected the people there grow and cook the best food and make the best wine.  He loves his town and his life there with an ensemble of equally talented and decent human beings who all know and respect and enjoy each other -- and let us not forget the animals. Like food and wine, animals are all through these books to books' greater delights.

Last night reading along in The Resistance Man I speculated on a Chief Bruno novel of St-Denis and Covid-19. I bet it would be child's play for Martin Walker to pull that one out -- it would work too, in a way that doing a Covid-19 installment for most long established series just, well, cannot. For one thing, Martin, as mentioned, has various strands of the past constantly twining about what is happening in the present of each novel.  He fills the new reader in on the past of Bruno and the other characters too, if the reader is not beginning the Brunos at the beginning.  He's skilled at 'bridge writing' then, which again not all writers are.

So far the series has 19 entries, at least two of which are Occasional short stories.  They are short, and Walker writes fast -- a book a year in this series, starting in 2008 with Bruno, Chief of Police / Death in the Dordogne, the most recent, this year, A Shooting at Chateau Rock. I'm finishing off my 9th Chief Bruno tale tonight, having begun reading this series, at the very end of June.

We continue reading John Quincy Adams's Diaries.  We are nearly finished, which has me so upset, because this means JQ will be dead and there will be no more from this entirely unique figure and voice who witnessed, lived through and made this nation's history for his entire life.  Every time I think of this being finished I start to cry. Ya, I know.  But there it is. So  I am forcing postponement of The End.

So currently we're reading aloud Fordlandia: The Failure of Ford's Jungle Utopia  (2009) by Greg Grandin.  (BTW, if you haven't yet read Greg's The End of the Myth (2019), do it now!)

Fordlandia goes along beautifully too, with the second and third volumes of Edmund Morris's biography of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex (2001) and Colonel Roosevelt (2011),

as well as The River of Doubt:Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey (2005) by Candice Millard.  Both Roosevelt and his son barely escaped death in the Amazon on this final Teddy's Excellent Adventure.

Ford on the other hand, really did die, or at least spectacularly fail, in the Amazon -- another capitalist, USian, racist fantasy that smashed against a reality he never even noticed in his meticulous planning.  Just like Roosevelt's hubris, refusing to heed anyone's warnings.

These days, others are running off the cliff just the same way, right this minute, alas, alas, alas. They are taking us, who do heed the warnings, with them.  Or more likely, somehow, protected by their wealth, power and lies, they survive.  But we don't.  Certainly the USA won't.

We never learn.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

This is Real! No Deaths Yesterday! Not One!

     . . . . "New York City Without Coronavirus Deaths Four Months After First Report
By Jennifer Peltz, Michael R. Sisak and Marina Villeneuve • Published 4 hours ago • Updated 1 hour ago"

I cannot describe the sensations that poured through me when I first read this headline late this afternoon -- a combo of relief, joy and -- still, almost disbelief, disbelief that after all these cases and so much death -- that nobody died of this in the last day. Breathless.
[....]"New York City health officials reported zero deaths related to the novel coronavirus four months after the state's first official death was recorded on March 11.
According to initial data reported by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, no one died from the virus in New York City on July 11. Officials recorded no confirmed deaths the day before as well, but did have two probable deaths.
The department's data shows there hasn't been a day without a coronavirus-related death since March 13, two days after the first reported death.
Each sign of progress in New York has come in the shadow of an ever-growing national spike that continues to plague the U.S. crisis. On Sunday, Florida reported more than 15,000 positive cases of the virus. It's the highest single-day number for any state and cleared the record previously set in New York back in April.[....]
At the same time, the Democratic governor has ordered travelers from more than a dozen states to quarantine for 14 days, while urging New Yorkers not to let up on wearing masks or social distancing.
Yet with the virus tearing through the South and West, Cuomo warned Friday it would eventually rear up again in New York.
We’re doing everything we can,” he told WAMC radio, but “I can feel it coming.”
A widely cited University of Washington model doesn’t project spikes — at least through its Nov. 1 time frame — in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, whose Democratic governors have coordinated on traveler quarantines and, earlier, some shutdown policies. But that doesn’t mean the densely populated tri-state area is in the clear."[....]
If only we would be allowed to keep this up, which we could, with even fairly decent, intelligent leadership and action on the city, state and federal levels. One has little faith in mayor de Blasio, for reasons maybe rather different than having no faith in the feds as they are in These Times, but not so very different. The mayor's thinking only of himself, not the city -- and certainly not teachers and students. Only about the real estate people who are determined to have the bars and restaurants and theaters fully opened, inside and out -- which means the schools have to be reopened, because they are this nation's only daycare, and gotta get those people back making profit for us -- thus we pay them less than before even, provide no safety of equipment, clothing or conditions, and demand immunity from being held responsible for their illness and deaths.

At least we have a governor who is canny and not stupid, and has the cojones to stand up to deathcultchief demanding all the schools reopen.

But we're surrounded by idiot governors and idiots who will not distance or wear mask, so, ya, Cuomo is right about how he can even feel its looming, aimed right at us.

Still -- HOORAY!


This is all the more welcome as there have been many visits with health care teams and doctors since the July 4th weekend.  All is going very well, things are fine -- it's now trying to catch up on the tests and so on that never happened due to covid-19 and shutdown of everything, including health care for anything but that.

So ya, we believe Cuomo when he says we're far better prepared for the next loop of the virus.  After so much poking and prodding and swabbing el V says he will make book nobody can do a nasal swab as fast and efficiently as a NYC medical pro.

Incidentally, every member of every team who saw him is African American or African.  So are all the nurses. All the physicians who saw him are Asian.  No white people anywhere treating anybody.  What should we make of this?

Monday, July 6, 2020

Emergency Room Holiday Weekend Watching -- The Frankie Drake Mysteries, First Season

     . . . . According to all the rules of every land and place, with the long weekend of a holiday's other related anxieties, pressures and mishaps -- come medical emergencies.  So the night before the 4th, while all hell is descending and breaking out in our neighborhood, NYC and the country, a medical emergency sent us out into the streets at 11 PM, to find a way to get to an emergency room.  Fortune favored us and we were inside and the patient was being seen to all within 15 minutes of realizing it was indeed necessary to go to the emergency room.

All is now well, in the sense of recovery.  Additionally as we were so fortunate, we didn't rack up tens of thousands of dollars for an ambulance to the ER.  Nor did we need to spend the night.  We were home again via a car service the ER called for us by 4 AM.  Things are going slowly but they are going surely.  And we were very, very, very lucky.  It could have been, well, I don't even want to think about what it could have been.


The Frankie Drake Mysteries (2017) season 1, CBC, streaming on amazon prime.

     . . . . The Frankie Drake Mysteries is  brought to us by the Murdoch Mysteries team (2008 -2020, 14 seasons so far). At this point anyway, FD is a more light-hearted, but it too deals with mysteries and crimes. It too has a dependable ensemble cast of characters who live in Toronto. Like MM Frankie Drake frequently features a rotating appearance of real world figures. The first and third eps included Ernest Hemingway as an  intermittent character, Mack Sennett in the 5th, Al Capone in the 7th (I'm up to the 8th ep tonight). However, while MM is fin de siècle, Frankie Drake's time is the Jazz Age.

Happily, unlike Murdoch's Toronto, Jazz Age Toronto brings us lots of good music, which is remarkably well done, meaning how seldom long-running situational television does music well. Unlike Murdoch too, there are many characters of color, including Frankie’s partner in the detective agency, Trudy, who sings wonderfully and has extraordinarily beautiful, huge eyes and a wonderful family with two of the most charming younger brothers ever. Frankie’s intermittent black boxer boyfriend seems to be a model of some sort for one of historical Hemingway’s boxing stories. The series has been renewed for a 4th season so somebody is watching it.

The mise en scène and the costumes are very high quality -- particularly the clothes.  The designers put a lot of art and thought into the costuming.  Classic 20’s fashion, but with their own interpretation of it, which is always a joy to the eyes. The earrings, o their earrings!  They are to die for!

As with MM, I wasn't thrilled by the first episode, but like MM, Frankie Drake quickly charmed me, and charms me ever more in each subsequent episode.  In the case of Frankie Drake what initially captured my interest was that the prejudice and racial conditions (and those of women!) of 1920's North America were not ignored, yet the writers and actors hit the issue with the ensemble characters perfectly in a tone that matches the tone of the show – to my ears anyway. It does not make light of racial prejudice, or how it affects the characters -- but the racism isn't the point of the characters. The point of the characters is always entirely who they are, from backstory with family, friends, lost husbands, and most of all, the work they love and work very hard to get to do.

The show's reshuffled all the characters, locations and other elements that charmed us in Murdoch, with the real difference  of seeing the stories primarily from the perspectives of the Toronto Outsiders, whether of color, entertainers, non-traditionally aspirational women, women, who because of WWI, have lost their fathers and husbands (Canada sent a whole lot of men to the European slaughter). This reveals a Toronto beyond the white British ruling class, the Toronto that has always attracted all sort of immigrants, refugees, criminals, and those who just like moving around. 

Women are centered in each episode. The show is unabashedly feminist, though not preachy about it. Not only white Frankie and black Trudy as the leads, but many other sorts of women are featured, particularly working class women. An Asian woman is a continuing character, as is a plus-size woman. Trudy gets featured at least as much as Frankie. Thus the title is rather unfortunate.  

I’m liking the series a lot.  I wish seasons 2, 3 and 4 were available!

From Wikipedia:

Connections with Murdoch MysteriesIt is revealed in Frankie Drake Mysteries that the series takes place in the same universe as Murdoch Mysteries and that it takes place years after the events of Murdoch Mysteries. Some main and recurring characters from Murdoch Mysteries make appearances in Frankie Drake Mysteries, such as Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) who is revealed to have retired as an inspector and head of Station House Four. Also Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) is revealed in the eighth episode of the first season ("The Pilot") to have retired from Constabulary to become a successful investor and Detective Llewellyn Watts (Daniel Maslany) is revealed to have become the successor to Brackenreid as the new inspector and head of Station House Four.[11][12]

Friday, July 3, 2020

Opening the Hell Mouth -- But There's No Buffy

     . . . . To decompress from last night's paid Zoom Event with the California audience, we went outside -- the Buck Moon, you know,

which is a little darker this year than usual.  We could even tell that was so, looking up from the packed street.

Very Expensive vehicles everywhere, disgorging Very Expensive passengers. many of those vehicles with license plates -- Texas and Florida. None of the passengers wearing masks. The places into which they are sashaying -- nobody is wearing masks either. Except the servers. Nobody's anywhere near 6 feet apart. In many of these places the awnings / tents are essentially inside spaces with some form of a portable a/c unit. There are of course also NY plates on other vehicles. But I made a count and about 1/3 were with Florida and Texas plates.

Many of these places have more tables now on the sidewalks and streets than they were able to have inside. There is nowhere for people like us to walk.

Not a cop in sight to enforce anything. I suppose if they're enforcing, it's in the Bronx.

This is a sleigh ride to hell return to NYC's previous catastrophe.

Also with the sheer number of these places having filled up both the sidewalks and the streets, the number of people stationary for hours in each others' faces, without masks, this number of people far exceeds the 25 - 30 people rule. These blocks of restaurant tables etc., converge, like rain drops converging to make a rivelet, rivelets converge, become puddles, ponds, sloughs, etc. This is very dangerous to us. As per usual in this country, nobody thought this through. All they thought was REVENUE!

So, now, Miami-Dade County has even had to institute a curfew, 10 PM - 6 AM. I wish ours was back. It has mandatory mask wearing. I wish we did too. But I suppose it would only be enforced by the cops on people of color.

E V is having a very unhappy day. He gets them just as I do. Like mine, they come predictably early in the new month as we realize yet another month of being frozen at home with no hope of normal life in sight.

His birthday is the 8th -- Wednesday. We have no plans. Our birthdays have always been so much fun, gatherings of friends, food and music.

Our anniversary is the 25th.

Waiting for grocery delivery. Thank goodness this isn't really like waiting for Godot.  He's doing edits, I am studying and writing.

But the noise coming in from the streets is already nearly unbearable.