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

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

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

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Oct. 31: Postmambo presents ¡Que Viva la Muerte! Gède / kalunga / Death Metal Angola

      . . . . Tomorrow!  Sunday, Oct. 31!  It begins at 3:30 pm! (Eastern Daylight Time)

We'd love to have you with us. To participate, you need to have the Zoom link, which you get from the [seminar] mailing list (because [nedslist] is too big to send Zoom links to). If you're not already on that list, write me and I'll make sure you get the link.

A special one-day virtual event celebrating All Saints' Eve / Day of the Dead / Fèt Gede / Halloween


Long live death!

=> 3:30 pm: Jean-Daniel Lafontant will talk with us about Gède, the lwa of death whose day is celebrated all over Haiti.

=> 5:00 pm: scholar / educator / photographer C. Daniel Dawson talks with us about kalunga and death in Kongo thought and cosmology.

=> 6:30 pm: dinner break.

=> 8 :00 pm: a special edition of Postmambo Movie Night, presenting Death Metal Angola (2014), with filmmaker Jeremy Xido in conversation.  

* * *


November 11, 8 pm Eastern: NOLA Reconnect Sessions: Erol Josué talks with Dr. Elizabeth McAlister.

November 18, 8 pm Eastern: Postmambo Movie Night: Jason Berry presents his new film City of a Million Dreams.

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 . . . .