LINES OF THE DAY

". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Crime In Our Hands (Books), Crime On Our Screens (TV)

     . . . . Horowitz, Anthony. (2016 in the UK, 2017 in the US) Magpie Murders.




In some ways this is an odd, if clever, duck of a crime novel that is two novels in one.

There is The Magpie Murders itself, the last novel by Alan Conway, a best selling crime author whose series features Atticus Pünd, a detective much like Poirot, though German, not Belgian, and rather younger than Poirot, having gone through internment in a nazi death camp. His rescue by the British allowed him to remove to England, thus the series's plots are set in the 1950's. The second, the framing novel, is set in our present, narrated via Susan Ryland, the verging on middle-aged editor of Conway's Atticus Pünd series.

Throughout the two novels, past and present, do homage to the golden age of British crime fiction divas such as Christie and Allingham. They also reference constantly the crime novel series that Horowitz has been instrumental in producing, adapting and writing series for television, which are many, and all of which I've watched, just starting with Agatha Christie's Poirot, Foyle's War and o my, but not only! -- Midsomer Murders!  To be sure, the opening chapter of the framed Conway novel feels right out of the opening shots of the pre-Neal Dudgeon Barnabys of Midsomer Murders, with a pan of the village and the character-suspects

Magpie Murders was a thoroughly engaging whodunit until -- soon in the second section of the framing novel, with us back to Susan Ryland's pov and narration. It sags then, going on too long, and ultimately the solution of the crime within it and who did it, is as unsatisfying as the one at the conclusion of the framed Atticus Pünd Magpie Murders. 

.... Horowitz first developed the concept of Magpie Murders during the first season of Midsomer Murders, which premiered in 1997. He has stated that he wanted the novel to "be more than just a murder mystery story" and to be "a sort of a treatise on the whole genre of murder mystery writing. How the writers come up with the ideas; how these books are formed."[1] ....

It is that indeed, which is entertaining and even useful in itself for anyone who likes to read and watch such series, and anyone who wishes to read them.  Additionally, the book is as overstuffed as candied fruit in a Christmas fruit cake with real life best selling crime series writers’ and reviewers encomiums to Pünd, such as Ian Rankin, Ann Cleeves, etc.  Does one need to say Horowitz is adapting this novel for Britbox and PBS? 




.... In July 2020 Deadline announced that PBS’ Masterpiece would adapt the novel into a six-part drama series and air it in the US, and will air the series on BritBox in the UK.[12] ...

This Horowitz guy, never stops writing!  Check it out here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     . . . . And yet more village crime!

In For A Murder - W Jak Morderstwo in Polis (2021) Netfix Poland Original.

It revolves around a murder that takes place in a small town in Poland and Magda, a resident in the neighbourhood takes it upon her to investigate the case and solve the murder. However, when the case draws back to some past incidents, the events that follow seem to get complicated.

An updated, Polish Agatha Christie given the screen treatment we know so well by now from Brit tv, like Midsomer Murders etc. and by now later updates such as the Daniel Craig Knives Out.   We even begin with long tracking shots of a lovely youngish blonde woman, riding a bicycle on lovely wooded tracks, getting lovely veg and fruit and honey from the street market, returning home to cute kids in a lovely house. But the husband, nope, not so much . . . 




The W/V necklace we see here is significant to the crime and mystery In For A Murder.




I enjoyed this very much, not least because of its location, which isn't either England or the US,




 in the same way I so enjoy Candice Renoir, the French policier featuring a blonde verging on middle-age detective who is a divorced mom, kind of messy, anxious about her weight, but not that much! brillian  -- and whose smile should be registered as a dangerous weapon.  She turns that smile on someone and any resistance goes out the door.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Incidental Reading

Beran, Michale Knox. (2021) Wasps: The Splendors and Miseries of An American Aristocracy


Why have book covers become so ugly, all across the board, whatever genre?


     . . . . Beran does bludgeon us with his theme that this class felt de-centered and emasculated somehow post the War of the Rebellion, and indeed were, and that the 1960's finished the job.  I don't necessarily swallow all this, as not everyone was Henry Adams, but nevermind. It's engaging partly due my attempts to figure out what it is that makes sorts like Beran obsessed with these media-declared aristoi all their lives, even building their careers around investigating and  writing about them, and, like Dominick Dunne, even to covering others like them such as Truman Capote. The ilks such as Babe Paley, the Astors, Vanderbilts, etc. who in the 50's and 60's got labeled "the beautiful people" by the ilks who hung around in their entourages.

For myself, however, the earlier figures out of Gilded Age New England* who happily get the most text, including even William James, etc., are often fascinating, though usually for what they did, even sometimes in spite of themselves, like Isabella Gardner, not their failures. Santayana is among them, though one doesn't feel he really belongs, as neither a Bhramin nor a WASP, and because he left the US all together for Italy, where he softly voiced his ingrained anti-semitism and sympathy for fascism.  IOW, no better than the ones of the 20th C, for whom one cannot at times feel the tumbrils should have come, useless arrogant jerkwaddies of self-importance founded upon nothing, that they were.  There. My own class roots show.  Ha!

Beran adopts that slightly mocking, self conscious tone reconizable among both the Brits and the USians of both birth and non-birth poshie membership when writing about these classes. (see Brit Simon Winder, who wrote three books of German history, in which he claims to love Germany,  in which he does nothing but mock them, for their food, their cutesy pie imitation middle ages villages, etc. -- he a Brit, from the land of bring the tourists to our manufactured village fetes and terrible food, mocking another country for terrible food and tourist attracting non-authenticity??????? -- and he's much nastier, btw, in that supremely nasty manner that is the signature of the post colonial Brit asshole superiority**) which further irritates me. Beran even snidely references Dominick Dunne, while coyly refusing to type the man's name, so one speculates then, that Beran is rather envious of Dunne, who now, of course, is dead and gone, like the world, and the scandal ridden jerkwaddies who populated it, whom Dunne devastatingly described in journalism, television, films and fiction.

I do admit to liking Dunne to a degree, since he doesn't project that personal petty meanness, in his writing at least.  Or maybe it's that Dunne was the first informer about these 20th C types I met, in Vanity Fair, which I bought every month, with many other magazines and books, across the street when bookstores were a thing here.

Regarding books and bookstores, btw, two weeks ago, their absence broke my heart again.  Walking along Our Street, here was an empty storefront in the process of becoming a rare and used book store, with floor-to-ceiling shelves filled, comfy chairs and everything else one could want in such a place! I hadn’t seen or been inside such a one since my last visit to Royal Street in New Orleans! Brimming with indescribable happiness and excitement I pulled out my phone to so inform el V and B -- and then was told this was a movie set, not real. My spirits plunged.  Again, I cannot tell you how happy I was at the very idea of a bookstore! in our neighborhood that has nothing of use in it at all. Only horrible restaurants filled with mannikans, whose only thought in head is “SELFIE!”

*Why does Beran insist upon including Theodore Roosevelt and the other Roosevelts among these New Englanders, when their fortunes and defining characteristics are hereditary membership in the NEW YORK ruling class, not New England's, despite having attended Harvard?

** Winder, Simon (2010) Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History (US) / A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern.

Author an editor at UK Penguin.

This is confusing as the subtitle differs, I think, in the US from the subtitle in the UK. There are two other books as well, in the same vein, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe (2013) , and Lotharingia: A Personal History of Europe’s Lost Country (2019).

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Women -- Lucan (2013) ITV-Britbox. 2 episodes.


     . . . .  “I’m an Earl!  This country’s gone to hell when an earl can’t get his wife committed into an insane institution just on his say-so!”  Scripted drama around the late 1970’s disappearance of a Lord Lucan who lost everything gambling and can’t understand why he should lose just because he lost.



So, yes, I’ll kill Veronica, he thinks, because she harshes his joys of losing all their money to his gambling, and because she doesn’t like he hits her, and doesn’t like that he chases around, and he's afraid she'll ask for a divorce. Damn this country where the courts will give guardianship of HIS children to the mother. So murder is the only solution. Plus, you know, I am LORD LUCAN, the courts won't / can't touch me -- except they'll take away guardianship of MY CHILDREN, so what the hell insanity is going on here?  Gotta kill her.  That what manly sorts who are at the top of evolution like gorrillas do!

Such ignorant, entitled, hereditary horrors these aristo Brit males of the 1960’s and 70’s! Stupifyingly stupid, incompetent to do anything, except cheat, whine, whinge, and blather endlessly about their infinite super manly superiority. Imagine this guy – he killed Sandra, his children's beloved nanny, ‘by mistake’ because he couldn't tell the difference between Sandra and his wife, Veronica. He then does his best to kill, Veronica, right next to Sandra's dead body, on the same floor, when the wife comes down the stairs to investigate what happened.  When Veronica brilliantly incapacitates him by squeezing his balls even as he's viciously beating her, then talks down this evil manbaby, he politely suggests Veronica kill herself with an overdose of pain medication, and is somewhat bewildered and quite bothered that she rejects this proposal.  She made him lose the money and kill Sandra, strive to get her institutionalized, and finally he had to kill her because there was no other choice, because MY CHILDREN. I OWN THEM! I AM A MAN!  A lord man! A man kills! A man is entitled to kill! A man must kill because he is a man!

He and his circles are all up in alpha male, white eugenic nonsense that only the entitled aristos are entitled by birth blood and breeding to rule all those inferior to them which is everyone, plus All women. This is the BS we hear out of these same groups here and the UK about what makes a manly man manly – being white and rich is a good start!  Good grief you’d think it was 1900, an era of the perpetual boy, with ilks of the forever-boy child such as Teddy Roosevelt, blathering on subject. Are these the same blind to anything but their own childish, temper tantrum desires man babies who are running England now and got the country the disaster of Brexit?

One of the narrators matter-of-factly observes that in those days “the toffs just hated women”.  The women in their circles hated women too, echoing their men's perceptions and judgments like the successful, good women they are. That was what was wrong with Veronica, they tell us, which certainly qualified her to be institutionalized – she had thoughts of her own that didn’t agree -- including not like having all their assets gambled away, while having three small children to educate and start in life.  One might speculate this hatred of women, rife among the aristos, young, middle-aged and elderly, male and female, had something to do with the trajectory of Princess Diana’s emotional wreckage upon entering the royal circles. 

This is an unpleasant, disturbing watch, though it is a fascinating period piece, which, alas doesn’t seem that period-y in our time, filled with incels and other overtly women hating groups and men -- and women too! -- who think it perfectly obvious, sane and right that women, gotten uppity, like the Speaker of the House, should be removed, punished and even killed. These ilks are the reasons women are marching today for their reproductive rights and their personhoods, all over the country,  as well as in D.C. for yet again, as they had to do in the 1970's.



     . . . .There was an earlier television drama movie with these events as the subject, The Trial of Lord Lucan (1994). Also on Britbox.

"An imagined trial of a man who, in 1974 London, is thought to have killed a woman he mistook for his wife in order to regain custody of his children. He disappeared the day after the killing and was never found."


Anthony Head, beloved Giles the Watcher, from the beloved 1990's US television series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, plays Lucan.



However, this is what Lucan really looked like, flabby and soft as any other manbaby who assaults women, whining whimpering, tantruming, because barred from Twitter . . . .


Saturday, September 25, 2021

Tempe Na-Ri-Véh -- Haiti

      . . . . El V made this in an attempt to assist those who are struggling so hard to provide assistance. 




Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The First Day of Autumn Is Dark, So Dark -- The HermanCain Award Subreddit

     . . . . The Unbelievable Grimness of HermanCainAward, the Subreddit That Catalogs Anti-Vaxxer COVID Deaths

This is not a forum that attempts to change minds. It’s much darker.

https://slate.com/technology/2021/09/hermancainaward-subreddit-antivaxxer-deaths-cataloged.html

Despite the subject, describing a site that catalogs the deaths of covid deniers, anti-vaxxers and anti maskers, this piece effectively shows just how awful this disease is, how awful to die from it, and millions have -- we're creeping up to a million mark right here in the US.  From the beginning the descriptions of this disease scared the stuffing out of me -- and many others of us. Which is a massive driver for doing the right things that may keep us from contracting it, and not doing the wrong things that up our chances of contracting it.


"....It is cruel, a site for heartless and unrepentant schadenfreude. This is a place where deaths are celebrated, and it is not the only one. While endless ink has been spilled on the anger of Trump voters and Fox News viewers and QAnon adherents, there are other angers that haven’t been nearly as well explored. The exhaustion and fury doctors and nurses feel, for example, as they deal yet again with overwhelmed ICUs. Instead of being hailed as heroes, this time around they’re risking their lives to serve while walking through anti-vax protesters and being called murderers or worse by misled family members demanding or indeed suing for sick unvaccinated relatives on ventilators to be dosed with ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine or vitamin C. There is the anger of family members of those without COVID who are dying or sicker than they should be because treatment was delayed or denied to them at dozens of hospitals that had no beds available. There’s the frustration of parents trying to keep their children safe, the constant, destabilizing calculations and adaptations people are forced into when (for instance) the governor of Texas prohibits schools from taking safety measures and then two teachers at a single school die, forcing closures once again. There’s the run-of-the-mill anger of those weary of living under pandemic conditions and demoralized—in the most literal sense—by the selfishness of their compatriots.


Subscriptions to the HermanCainAward subreddit are increasing exponentially, from 2,000 subscribers on July 4 to 5,000 at the beginning of August to more than 100,000 on Sept. 1 to 243,000 Friday to 276,000 today. If that rate is any indication, rage is growing toward anti-vaxxers deliberately prolonging the pandemic out of an anti-social and deadly understanding of their rights. Now, it’s true that not everyone on the subreddit assents to its spiteful premise: One exhausted nurse wrote a long post about how much one of her anti-vax patients suffered, as an attempt at counterbalance. She acknowledged her own compassion fatigue but also urged readers to think harder about how we got to this sorry pass. Plenty of the discussions do orbit around that basic question. But most of the comments are angry. A collection of screenshots generally elicits a common sentiment: The person got their just deserts...."


It's important to notice the author reporting on these sites which catalog the deaths of the covid-denying anti-vaxxers and what they have done and said throughout this catastrophe isn't excited or pleased. The author is reporting and witnessing. The author is asking questions, trying to make some sense of all it, while working out how this deranged, self-killing (and killing of others) fits into morality, ethics, community, even families, the very dilemmas and paradoxes and contradictions we are all being driven bonkers by. I.e. where is the reconciliation? Ultimately the covid-denying  anti-vaxxers etc. are irrational, thus there cannot be reconcilation.  Leaving the rest of us even more frustrated and despairing -- including, with such numbers of them, driven on by FB, Fox News and other Big Tech, can even we who try to follow the right paths, despair of evading this dreadful disease. We have reached the point where it cannot be waited out.

Because as the author says, even for those dying of covid, there is no conversion.  Nor is there after their deaths, as they are characterized by friends and family in the terms of "God gave her angel wings this week;" "God called him home;"  "His time came and now he's with his wife;" etc.  Not a word about, gee whiz if they'd gotten the vaccine and worn a mask four kids wouldn't be without parents and penniless.  They're just "beloved parents of ...." That 2 week old baby? Don't think so, since that baby never knew his parents at all. Not to mention the other 3 kids are under 8.

"Are these projects productive?" someone asks.

Someone else says, "Totally unproductive.  The effort would be better spent in integrating these lumpenized antisocial types back into the current system of biopolitical management. Something less horripilatory than re-education camps, obviously.  Sadly the don't-tread-on-me crowd doesn't take even the most tepid advice well. "

But we see from the comments of those who are dying, before and and during, and those of their families, by and large, that reeducation is not possible.  They've left that state which could allow for such rehabilitation years ago already.  We're talking people who died, not only believing covid and vaccines are a big hoax and grift designed by Dems, but also believe satanists are stalking the schools and eating children RIGHT NOW. Thus they have devoted their lives to fighting Dems and feminists tooth and nail. Then, o jubilee! They found the more entertaining, the more fun, conspiracy of covid. More fun and more entertaining because it provided a completely protected space to be as overtly abusive and bullying to as many people as any single person or group can manage -- even to the point of physical harm, while feeling safe from any official retribution from police or anyone else. Nor do the people they bully have secret service details and other protections.





You know, in all these endless dragging years of horrors as I've witnessed them -- a very few of them let me haste to add compared to Haitians and those living in so many other places -- since 9/11 and the WOMD lies, Katrina "heck of a job, Brownie," and hurricane after hurricane battering friends throughout the Caribbean and the South, and my own home too, shoggoth and his minions taking over the country -- in some ways this reddit site is the most horrible because the most depressing, the most despairing and hopeless in what it tells us about the people who live in this country.  Because it is determined derangement that is literally killing people I love and so much else that has made life worth living, despite the horrors.  It's Cthulhu manifest in our time and space. And it's from CHOICE, because, honestly? they cannot bear women and other Others having anything from decent jobs and housing and health care to R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Jesus and his saints weep.

Even with the historical highly documented evils, such as nazism and the Holocaust, you can see how there were people who saw personal advantages of various sorts from propagating evil lies, whether or not they truly believed the bs they said -- though whether they didn't, they still committed the acts, let us not forget.

But there is nothing to be gained by these deranged populations in what they are doing to themselves and others.  Though I suppose they, as cannon fodder, are helping those who designed all this for the sake of power.  Power over smoking ruin and ashes.

Well, then, there is that.  They take all the rest of us and everything wonderful with them.  They owned us, they really really really did. 

You win.  That's what you want to hear. 

So, can you get vaccinated now?


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Warm and Woolly September

      . . . . Ay-up, in the 80's, fuerza sunshine.  Of course this is the day to trek to REI and buy serious wool sox, and hit the shops on Broadway for cashmere sweaters. To balance this out, my personal air conditioning unit is arriving tomorrow.  I'll continue to have use for this for at least another three weeks, I suppose.

     . . . . .Other significant news: CNN reports that as of today, 1 in 500 people in the US have died of Covid.

~~~~~~~~~ Books

Some serious reading has arrived in la casa, because people send us books. 



Just today we received Libros Y Grabaos De Artistas Cubanas: 1985-2008, the catalog for the exhibit held in a different world, held at the Museum of Modern Art, and funded by the Grolier Club of Manhattan. It's a beautiful volume, splendidly fabricated, with equally beautiful content.




Illuminating antiquity, somebody I don't even know -- though I do know his name, I've never met the person -- sent me a copy of the massive, annotated, mapped, appendiced and encyclopedic indexed The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories (2007), edited by Robert B. Strassler.  It's so big it's too heavy to hold. It has to rest on a lap desk or some other support. A reference resource. I have read Herodotus's Histories -- or at least read widely in them. The Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuściński has read them all, many times.  He annotates Herodotus with his own book, Travels with Herodotus (2004) which focuses on a lifetime of reading Herodotus on the road, studying and reporting. He never traveled without the Histories. Even if one isn't familiar with or care about Herodotus, as with all of Kapuściński's writing it well worth reading, because so goo.

Now for the busy, busy 19th Century.




The title is unfortunate because it make the book sound like a Victorian sensationalist 'true crime' tale, when The Irish Assassins: Conspiracy, Revenge, and the Phoenix Park Murders That Stunned Victorian England (2021) by Julie Kavangh, is a serious work of history. In Serbia it was the Black Hand, the open-secret society that funded and planned the assassination of Duke Ferdinand and his wife in 1914.  Here in 1882, it's the Irish American funded, Invincibles, the militant arm of the Irish Independence Movement. At the moment when talks between the Movement and the British government were making headway, the day after Gladstone's emissary, Lord Frederick Cavendish arrives, he and the Irish undersecretary, Thomas Burke, are assassinated by the Invincible in Dublin's Phoenix Park.




The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politic (2021) by Mae Ngai, traces the anti-Chinese racism in the gold fields around the world 1848-1899. It was remarkably the same in South Africa and Australia as it was in California.




People still buy our books. We just heard a school in New Orleans is purchasing two hundred copies of The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square. In the meantime, most of New Orleans's power was restored by the end of last week, but not so out there in Cajun Country.  People we know have organized a truck convoy to take supplies to Thibodeaux and Houma. With our contribution I requested sanitary supplies in various sizes be included. People, even when women are part of the organizing and planning, tend to forget this necessity.


~~~~~~~~~~~ Watching

Tomorrow Postmambo Movie Night presents The Rumba Kingsfollowed by a conversation with filmmaker Alan Brain.






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~My Favorite Thing This Week (so far)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at Monday night's Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (part 1), in a borrowed dress from her designer girlfriend and 'escort':


The meta and the irony of this.  So much reading one can do -- 
"I don't really care - do you?"  That one has never attended any Met Costume gala!
 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Fire In The Hole. Again. A Rant

 



   





I can't hear you because don't do media beyond radio and newspapers and I shut off the radio, and I stopped reading the newspapers too.

 . . . .  Twenty-one years later, here we are again.

All the same blobmediaidiots blathering the same things TheyBlathered after 9/11, Afghanistan, the Middle East, terrorism, immigrants, and with Hurricane Ida and New Orleans, all the same blobmediaidiots blathering the same They Blathered after Katrina and oil in the Gulf and and and and, which brings us the periodic resurrection of recognition there is climate change, by golly, and it is here, it really is here! as with Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and NYC, Ida and New York. All discovered, like Madonna's virgin, for the very first time.  

Does anyone remember the blobmediaidiots blathering climate change and rising ocean levels after Venice's flooding, o way back in 2019. 

By month's end this all will be down the irrelevant-and-forget hole, until the next occasion for the Same blobmediaidiots to resurrect and rewind. 



The same politiciansidiotblobblather also.  Who in hell thinks bushwa qualified to say anything in 2021 about 9/11, terrorism and Afghanistan?

This time with Ida, somehow the same blobmediaidiots missed their blather about loooooooooooooooooooooooooooters!  Could it be that some of them heard from people who weren't able to escape to their second homes in the country what real looters are like?  O wait they saw it on NYC tv, they didn't need to hear.  Maybe they got their looter fix back last summer.  Funny how that event immediately got shoved down the irrelevant-and-forget hole. Will it return, ya think, around mayoral election time?

Do not confuse the criminal looting that we lived through here with the ongoing BLM protests, at which there was no rioting, no cruelty, etc. etc. etc.  Except from cops.  The same cops who just stood there and did nothing when the actual looters, organized and equipped by professional criminals, did the deeds for at least two nights.

The idiots are never more idiotic than times such as these, except the covidiots who are having Glory Times non-stop.

When we'll learn all over again it's all Biden's fault, every single every bit. Or it's the fault of AOC.  Or Obama. Or Clinton. All of them But somehow never Bushwa's 1 & 2, Brownie's or the orange shoggoth's or Bolton's or Cheney's or Gingrich's or or or or ....

O give it up.  We know all of it whatever it is is the fault of Others, not ourselves. Most certainly never the fault of faux noose and big tech and white supremacists, bigots, haters of all kinds. Who must be respected and catered to by blobmediaidiots at all times because reality and facts hurt their feelings and make them mad at us and then the advertisers go away.

In the meantime one cannot walk on the sidewalks or get through the streets from about 6th Ave and West 4th, down into our neighborhood below Bleecker because all firemen, all very very very drunk, without masks, smoking cigars.

And us, in the meantime?  The 9/11 trauma for us manifested into a phobia, a deep reluctance to be anywhere from whence we couldn't make it home on foot.  Fear of leaving the neighborhood, fear of leaving home. This lasted nearly a year. It returns again with every Something that takes place that affects us, even if we aren't presently there on the ground.  But never to the extent of 9/11.  Until pandemic. We really don't want to leave our familiar haunts, our comfort zone.  So much reluctance. Even though we're all overrun by those who leave their own haunts with greatest enthusiasm.





Thursday, September 9, 2021

Martin Walker's The Coldest Case: A Short, Sort Of Book Review

 





Walker, Martin (2021) The Coldest Case: A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel. The latest installment.

Walker recently won a French literary prize for representation of Southern France and culture to the world.'

I have an additional affection for Walker’s series now too.  I introduced these books to M, back in the summer of 2020.  They helped distract her from the ordeal of cancer tests and treatments, when it was possible to be distracted still, without morphine. She died last month.  I wish she'd been able to read this latest Bruno.


Areas near the French city of Marseille have been hit by a series of wildfires, burning homes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents.


I'd expected the next installment of the Brunos would deal with the pandemic as central to Provencal milieu. But it's the wildfire-drought summer of 2016 - 2017 - 2018 - 2019, or maybe even 2020?  Which year it is, is not specified, but it could be any one of them, or even this summer, except of course the book was going through its production process then. However, since there's no reference to previous drought and wildfire summers, this reader assumes 2016.* There are many references to the dangers to the Dordogne in particular, and the series of caves filled with prehistoric paintings, of which Lescaux is only the most famous, though may be not the most important. Which again suggests 2016, because, though wildfires were not unusual in this region in the summers previous to 2016, the extent of the burning and length of time they burned, was new.  Now, like in California, this is the norm.


Castelnaud-la-Chapelle village with Château de Castelnaud castle, Dordogne, Perigord noir, France

The locals – Bruno’s idea of course – employ (a castle that exists in reality) Château de Castelnaud’s re-created trebuchets throughout a set-piece’s endless night to hurl tonnages of ice and water into the advancing conflagration's front lines, retarding it long enough for France’s military fire-fighting planes to be able to fly (so low they have to go, it’s too dangerous at night in the mountains) and spray water on the front – and, not incidentally, as the series is all about the local,** save the castle.

Holy cow!  A litter of puppies are born!

Plus, for the murder mystery, and the historical elements of the Brunos’ formulae, Stasi surveillance documents and trained East German infiltrators from the 1980’s are central.
There's an attempted rape upon a young doctoral archaeologist by a gendarme, which rape is extraneous to all of the story lines, so the reader wonders if a gendarme assaulted a friend of the author? Or else, since she's essential to the solution of the local mystery, but never gets any page time, or time to spend with the local interlocked powers that be/friends, which is lamented several times by Bruno -- this is how author gives her some recognition? Balzac the Bassett's first sired litter of puppies get much more attention than this young archaeologist. Constant attention in fact, even though nobody’s seen them except on Bruno’s fone. Everyone cares about the puppies. Sadly then, we understand this way just what an Outsider she is to this local influencer network intersecting with others of their ilks throughout France in the police, military, media, education, politics, finance, medicine and law (hmm what does it mean that the Church isn't represented in this group?) -- just as it has been at least since the Renaissance. Nobody cares about the young archaeologist Nobody, unconnected to Somebodies. But they do feel vaguely guilty about it, since the author does.   (How much book are we willing make, if this character recurs down the line, as so many do, it will turn out she's the niece of Somebody?)

On the other hand – puppies! And all our recurring characters, as do we readers, know Balzac since he was a pup, and love him well, while nobody knows the archaeologist, including we the readers. Local social circle-hierarchies are cruel as families to those who aren't really part of them.

This means, though, I can still look forward to a Pandemic in Provence Bruno. Or Pandemic and wildfires in Provence, just like 2020 and 2021.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  *    We were there in Provence between those of 2017 and 2018.  Wolves had been seen for the first time in decades, if not centuries, in the mountains of our friends' village.  I asked then if it were possible the wildfires had sent them to the region, but no one knew.

**  Which makes this series part of the mysteries classified as "cosies", one supposes?  That this is so contributes no little to its success, one further supposes, as the thriller aspects of the larger plots are often not plausible if one looks at them for one second.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

I Say, You Say, They Say, All Say "Abbott (Who Needs Costello)"

 


Why, yes, as we say, say we all, so says AOC

He is not familiar with a female body

Cortez went on to explain the basic biology surrounding pregnancies, and that many pregnancies are often undetected at six weeks. She said: “In case no one has informed him before in his life, six weeks pregnant means two weeks late on your period. And two weeks late on your period, for any person with a menstrual cycle, can happen if you’re stressed, if your diet changes, or for really no reason at all. So you don’t have six weeks.”

Cortez added: “He speaks from such a place of deep ignorance, and it’s not just ignorance. It’s ignorance that’s hurting people.”

Recall the New York woman who waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day said, "If men got pregnant abortion would be a sacrament."? That was Gloria Steinem They (the blobmedia) was determined to tell us, but Steinem said it was Floryence Kennedy who said, she had heard it in Boston from an elderly Irish lady taxi cab driver.




And even further back than that in New York there were Susan B. Anthony and Cady Stanton.  The staging of Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thompson's opera re Anthony, The Mother of Us All in February 2020, was the last time I've been there.  Sigh.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     . . . .  Brain's been in a funk the last several days.  I hope I'm coming out of this state in which I just don't wanna bother because why bother?  A weekend without a hurricane, without a hurricane watch, without a hurricane, all of which were disasters to so very many of our near and dear, after three in row, has helped. El V insisted we Go Out to observe our Carnalversary, which is Labor Day Weekend (why yes, that was a date that lasted the entire long weekend!) helped too.  There's just been so much death, delta, destruction, voter suppression, and all around wickedness in the last few weeks that my processing capacitors seemed to have needed to shut down for a while.  All I want to do is watch old Poirets on Acorn tv and read novels.

Books, we have them.  I brought home two from the library this afternoon.

I'm going to re-read Sharon Kay Penman's second Plantagenet novel Time And Change (2002), now I've finished the re-read of When Christ and His Saints Slept (1995) -- well that one I listened to while working out.  This one I'll read with mine own eyes. Henry II and Eleanor have courted and married, he's become king.  In this second novel Henry and Beckett's alliance-friendship fails in murder; Henry and Eleanor's brilliant erotic, romantic, strategic marriage alliance of equals goes to hell yet with love abiding. Can there be anything more dramatic that that?

The second novel I brought home is The Personal Librarian (2021) by Mare  Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. This historical fiction is centered upon the mixed race, passing for white, brilliant woman, who was John Pierpont Morgan’s first librarian, in charge of his magnificent collection in the building that is now the Pierpont Morgan Library.  I've been looking forward to reading this novel since late spring / early summer.

Delivery brought three non-fiction books today too.  

Toby Green's A Fistful of Shells: West Africa From the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (2019) a history of the African slave trades -- not only the Atlantic slave trade.  I wish we'd had this book back when we were writing the bodies as money sections of The American Slave Coast (2015).  



We received Ada Ferrer's latest book, just released, Cuba: An American History.  We will not be suprised if she gets the Pulitzer for it. She's speaking tomorrow night at a NYPL event, but tomorrow night is Postmambo Movie Night, so we cannot participate.

September 9 and 16, 2021

NOLA Reconnect Sessions and Postmambo Movie Night present
 
Cuba and Africa: Ivor Miller and The Rumba Kings [Some serious Congo Guitar Godding going on' here! ]

The bidirectional flow of music between Cuba and Africa, with Abakuá and Congo perspective

And, a book that can't be more New York if it tried, Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destablized America and Produced Trump (2021) by Spencer Ackerman. OK, so it's not just about New York, but it is stuffed with what we experienced up close and personal.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      . . . . As for watching, I'm continuing with King of Boys (2021), Season 1, Netflix Original and the re-watch of The Last Kingdom, 4 seasons, the best 'period' television going. 

Brain, heart, soul in funk though, so bad has it been, that I missed working out one day last week, I keep wanting My Life Is Murder, season 2 (2021), in sunny, colorful Sydney, featuring Lucy Lawless as police consultant, Alexa Crowe.  In the latest episode we here learn that even if successful enough for Las Vegas, Sydney? New Zealand? drag queens cannot compare to the stunning, talented, spectacular drag beauties we are used to. Also, by time the drag duet was to go to Las Vegas, Las Vegas was closed, but they evidently didn't know that, even though Alexa's assistant, Madison called Vegas to learn for who rooms were booked. 

Thus -- I'm most confused.  Supposedly they are now somewhere in New Zealand ... for ... reasons? Family?  But it still looks like Sydney.

We  learn Alexa has a brother in prison and her father was something of a crook and con man -- just like Miss Fischer's dad!  The bro is played by the dude who plays Sam on Netflix's northern California soap opera, Virgin River. He isn't convincing as an Aussie, New Zealander, whatever.  


Alexa and Madison


They Say that Renee O'Conner will show up in one of the episodes, so Xena fan service, I guess? Alas, only a single episode released per week, just as with Vera's season 11. So I began re-watching the earlier BBC Suchet Poirots too. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     . . . . This afternoon I officially began preparing for the long cold winter ahead.  I have discovered REI Co-op, an outdoor activities store.  This means they carry some serious cold temperature kit.  I started with the over the calf heavy duty merino sox, with extra layers on the soles.  I'll pick up more items like caps and more sox, particularly for el V in the next few weeks, as it couldn't be more convenient to do so, located between here and one of the library branches where I pick up ordered materials.

Keep on truckin' all we all!  




Saturday, September 4, 2021

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Daily Depressions, Reading, Watching

      . . . . Our tiny but sublime vacation was followed immediately by non-stop crises of all kinds, all of them made by those over whom we have no control.  Death was bookended by Hurricane Henri and Hurricane Ida. Ida's hollowed out New Orleans's professional class. With no prospect for the return of power for perhaps months, they left the city.  They have the resources to do so -- Tulane shuts down for 6 weeks, but keeps remote learning going, so the faculty get paid.  You see what I mean?  So in crazy heat and humidity, no power, no a/c, no home, no money, no food, no water -- what do you think will happen to those in New Orleans left behind?  Not a scrap of a FEMA person on the ground has yet been seen.

Though we personally have been spared hurricane crises -- so far, as tonight and tomorrow we get a month's worth of rain wrung from Ida's tattered, passing skirts into our already overflowing reservoirs and saturated earth* -- there are the western wildfires, whose toxin-laden smoke we are not spared. The mid-west is dying of drought, while the Gulf is drowning in flood. The blob that calls itself the responsible media is determined to crucify our President in the name of ... what???? A man in a no-win situation had the guts to let go the wolf's ears (which T Jefferson, referring to slavery, said could not be done -- but then, TJ become quite famous in the South, in Virginia, for his cowardice ....) does so, and some how this is reprehensible, but the Jan 1 insurrectionists are merely mis-understood, and must be forgiven.

Then ... there is covid's Delta variant which relentlessly tsunami's across the country.  In Illinois, Bro says he and his cohorts are calling it the "Unvaccinated Pandemic."  They are not saying this good-naturedly. They are as furious abut this as I am  Then comes more death, not from covid, but from people who can't get treatment due to the Unvaccinated Pandemic taking all the medical resources.  This is not of any personal making on our part, or that of anyone we know.  In the meantime, more voter repression, more war on women's reproductive rights and health. In the meantime too, the non-stop crisis that is Haiti, and now also that of Cuba, keep rolling.

And now, I am staring at the approaching mouth of winter's tunnel, a third cold, dreary winter, pretty much enclosed in this tiny space with one other person.  All we're seeing at the end of this tunnel is more vaccinations, more masks and even more dangerous covid variants. Because of Those Ilks.  Well, even people in my family now believe that is how it is with the rethugs: if They don't get Their way one way, They'll get it by something even crazier, such as killing Their own.  Whatever it takes, They get 'er done. **

So I've not been of much use to anyone outside of what is, again,  a tiny circle of close friends who happen to be physically close by, close enough we can meet informally in one of the neighborhood's small parks.  And I'm good for cooking. We continue to eat very well.  I have a big pot roast in the slow cooker right now, with wine, beef stock, herbs, onion, potatoes, carrots and 'shrooms.  It was a home delivery error on the part of MW's interpretation of what I'd ordered back in the spring. On such a wet day, with night temps for the next 2 - 3 nights going into the 60's and even 60's, it made sense to get it out of the freezer.

~~~~~~~~~

     . . . . Fortunately there is a great deal of good reading, and good watching. Never in my past life could I possibly have imagined there would be an extended period of my in which television would be of the greatest importance! This is the state of reading and watching as of today.

FICTION

Continuing:

Penman, Sharon Kay (1995) When Christ and His Saints Slept.  The workout audio book.  I’m going to re-work my way through the Penman Plantagent series.

~ ~ ~ ~

New:





Walker, Martin (2021) The Coldest Case: A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel. The latest, for which I've been waiting since last September.

Walker just won a French literary prize for representation of Southern France and culture to the world.  I have an additional affection for Walker’s series now too.  I introduced these books to Mary F. back in the summer of 2020, and she loved them too.

NON FICTION

Continuing:

Herrin, Judith (2021) Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe. This one I read alone.

Sampson, Fiona (2021) Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I have only a few pages left. I'd have finished it by now but the author is so irritating as she insists on being in the book, and she is not interesting.

Wickham, Chris (2009) The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages 400 – 1000. El V and I continue this aloud every night before lights out. 

~ ~ ~ ~ 

New:

Beran, Michael Knox (2010) Pathology of the Elites: How the Arrogant Classes Plan to Run Your Life.

Clark, Christopher (2013) The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914.

Raven, Catherine (2021) Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship

WATCH

Watch for: Vera, season 11, 1st, every Tuesday – BritBox;  Frankie Drake Mysteries, season 4, 3rd – PBS; Midsomer Murders, season 22, part 2, ? – Acorn; Crooked House (2017 film fr, an Agatha Christie novel), NF – 1st; Lucifer, season 6/final, 10th – NF; Dear White People, season 4/final, 22nd - NF; 

Continuing:

My Life Is Murder, season 2, 3rd through the 10th eps, 1st – Acorn -- sundrenched Sydney, Lucy Lawless.  Nuff Said.

~  ~ ~ ~ ~

New:



King of Boys  (2018) season 1, "The Return of the King"; Netflix Original.  I started this 7 episode series last night.

Made in Nigeria, by Nigerians, located in Lagos. Even in the first episode the show is ‘showing up’ the endless traditional internal conflicts, such as Yoruba vs Igbo.  Complicating things further we have a Nigerian version of protestant evangelical Christianity (a prosperity church, you betcha, with all the prosperity going to the head minister, natch), and so much more.

It opens media res within a prolonged party, dancing to live music. Money is being ‘sprayed’ i.e. the guests are “making it rain” – they are shoving, pouring, sticking, thousands of dollars upon the giver of the party and the musicians, a tradition in the Afro Caribbean as well as West Africa. So right away there’s a lot going on with which I have a certain level of long-time familiarity.

It’s as multi-lingual as Lagos is. The show is mostly English, but Nigerian English as well as the traditional languages of Yoruba and Igbo. Subtitles are provided then. Plus there is the local pidgin, for which the viewer might like to take advantage of closed captioning. The characters who know each other long and respect and like each frequently lapse into pidgin, a Nigerian variant of code switching done among friends, in the same way African Americans do this among each other.  There is this too -- 'King' is a woman.  She's addressed as "Oba" which is a male gendered title in Yoruba.  If one knows this right at the start, a whole lot of information is provided just by that.

Vivid, intense and not the USA at all.

~~~~~~~~~

*   Even as I type now, the rain begins. I hear it spraying against the window panes.

** See "The Density Divide and the Southernification of Rural America: The Old North/South Split Lives on in the Urban/Rural Divide"  by Will Wilkinson. Thanks to Lawyers, Guns & Money for tipping me to it.

. . . . One of the puzzles of the 2016 election, and the catastrophe of the Trump presidency, is how populist white nationalism finally prevailed at a time when Americans, taken altogether, were less racist than ever. This is one of the questions I take up in the “Density Divide.” But I left out one of my favorite answers to this question largely because it’s too speculative and I didn’t have the data to prove it. My hunch is that rural white culture, which was once regionally varied and distinctive, became more uniform by becoming increasingly Southern. I call this the Southernification thesis.

In the "Density Divide", I argued that the key to answering “Why did white ethnonationalism finally work to win the GOP nomination and then the White House when it didn’t even get close to working for Pat Buchanan or Ron Paul?” was that residential self-selection on ethnicity, personality, and education had made lower density parts of the country progressively more homogenously ethnocentric and socially conservative, which finally made it possible to unify and organize rural and exurban whites as a single constituency.

I’m confident that this is correct, as far as it goes. However, I think it’s an incomplete explanation without something like the Southernification thesis. Before it could be successfully organized politically, America’s increasingly ethnocentric non-urban white population needed to be consolidated first through the adoption of a relatively uniform ethnocentric white culture.

What I’m still groping for is solid empirical confirmation that the Southernification of white rural America did happen and, if so, how it happened. Now, I have few doubts that it did happen and is still happening. Indeed, it’s hard to think of better impressionistic evidence than the spread of Confederate flags far from the South into all parts of white rural America. But that doesn’t seem like quite enough.

But let’s suppose that it is enough. How did Southernification happen? I’m going to take this up at length in another, even more speculative, post. But here’s where I would start: When I was a kid, the Atlanta Braves somehow became “America’s Team.” Could it be that the media mogul who married Hanoi Jane took the critical first step in bringing non-urban white America together by beaming sanitized Southern culture into living rooms everywhere? . . . .

This is the most cogent explanation for what has happened that I've seen.  Of course, one doesn't see it in the Blob, which is what Lawyers, Guns & Money have taken to calling the so-called media, made up of people who have gotten whatever it is wrong almost every time, but still keep getting paid big money to keep getting it wrong.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

 

. . . . Mary Frey-Osmanski, wife of Steve, retired teacher of French and German, a long-time member of a variety of intersecting sf/f writer circles, a mainstay of the Society of Creative Anachronism's Pennsic communities and wars, left us this morning.

She met every new ordeal the course of the disease added to her struggle with courage and gallantry, and the determination to be dealt with by all as a full, living person, whose dignity was not to be trifled with.


I will miss her.  My heart goes out to her husband and her many friends in the Kingdom of the East.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Regarding Reizenstein's Mysteries of New Orleans & Cable's Old Creole Days

      . . . . For anyone with serious interest in the history of New Orleans, the history of the South, the history of the United States, American Literature per se, and the history of our literature that hailed from the slave states, this book will be fascinating, and revealing. 








Die Geheimnisse van New Orleans (The Mysteries of New Orleans) by Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein, published serially between in 1854-55 in the Louisiana Staats-Zeitung.  Rediscovered in the 1990's, translated and edited by Steven Rowan, published in 2002. 

From the penultimate paragraph of Mysteries of New Orleans, Chapter 4, p. 34, written in German, by someone who is coming to New Orleans, the South and the United States from outside, i.e. not born here, where all this was so normal people hardly remarked upon it.  Except, that by the time this was published in 1854-54, the red text was being remarked upon with ever increasing anger by ever increasing numbers.:

The person to whom these lines were directed is an old, respectable lady who, besides a few of the minor failings of her sex, has the great weakness of being somewhat obsessed over her aristocratic origins. Whoever violated her aristocratic pretensions even in the slightest immediately lost her favor.  Although she could not really be called rich, she owned three house in Bourbon Street and a volante with two horses.  A mulatto she just obtained through an inheritance completes her half-dozen slaves.  She belonged to that French clique in New Orleans that could still boast of the hereditary titles they brought with them in the period of the emigration.* This considerable clique of French aristocrats, which excludes even the richer Americans from its circle, since they are regarded as not of equal birth, play the same role in the small circle of New Orleans that the grandees of South Carolina play in the whole of the United States . . . .

One can't help but wonder if  George Branch Cable had familiarity with The Mysteries of New Orleans, that this work might have contributed in terms of format and treatment his Old Creole Days. The seven story collection was first published in 1879, which gave him rewarded him with literary renown (and sales!) in the North,  and the South's condemnation, so much so, he had to move North. The book was particularly loathed in New Orleans.




So, like Reizenstein's German language serial, New Orleans and the South labeled Cable as unfit to read, stuffed with dreadful ideas, exposing break after break in the color line via the most intimate of connections, though Cable's work was considered perverse for exposing such things to the eyes of the North -- lies, all lies! -- while Reizenstein'swas perversion, populated with lesbians, gays, cross dressers, etc. of all skin color heritages. Also lies, all lies! doncha know.  These things do not happen in New Orleans and the virtuous South.

* The Napoleonic wars and slave revolution in Haiti, from where many of them emigrated to Cuba, then when Napoleon went to war with Spain, were expelled and came to New Orleans, bringing their slaves with them, particularly their female slaves, as well as their free 'colored' mistresses and children, doubling the city's population in a single year.