". . . 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, June 15, 2022

Postmambo Seminars Presents

June 16, 8 pm Eastern, Postmambo Movie Night presents:

Elder's Corner, directed by Adesiji Awoyinka, who will join us on Zoom for conversation afterward. From the press kit:
    From the colorful, celebratory sounds of Juju to the politicized urgency of Afrobeat, Nigerian musicians have spearheaded some of Africa's most prominent musical movements. Oftentimes, their work formed the backdrop against which the nation blossomed. So what happened to the pioneering artists who rose to prominence during the country's halcyon years - and continued to endure when it faltered?
If you haven't been to a Postmambo Movie Night before, here's how we do it. It's easier to do than it is to describe. 

    1) We assemble on Zoom, then migrate as a group to Vimeo to watch the movie.  (I'll give you the Vimeo link in the Zoom chat.)

    2) Once we're on Vimeo, I give the 5-4-3-2-1 countdown, and we all start watching in sync. When it's over, we migrate back to Zoom.

==>Please be on time. (It's hard to sync you in if you don't start with us.) Log in before 8 pm Eastern, please.

This is really easy, but occasionally people who don't have experience with these platforms encounter problems. We don't want anyone excluded! If you don't think you have the tech savvy, or want to do a tech check beforehand, e-mail me and we'll get together privately and talk you through it. 

**************** HOW TO DONATE ***************
You don't have to pay to attend. Don't feel bad if you can't. But we can only continue if we are supported, so we very much appreciate your donation of any size. We're self-funding, so your participation is crucial. I suggest a contribution of $15 for this one event, or $150 to express ongoing support for the series, but we'll happily accept whatever amount you can donate.  Payment options:
1) Zelle. This is our preferred way to receive money, if your bank offers it. Tell them to send it to  (It will ask you to confirm by showing you the name PLEAS.)

2) Paypal (be sure to check "sending to a friend" or else they charge a commission):

3) cashapp $nedsublette

4) Venmo @Postmambo-Studies

4) Paper check via USPS.  E-mail me and I'll send the info. 
Thank you if you have donated, y'all know who you are, and once again -- thank y'all for making our sessions possible.

* * *

July 14: Postmambo Sessions presents a conversation with Dr. Gerald Horne, Moores Professor of History at the University of Houston and author of more than three dozen books, including Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music (Monthly Review Press, 2019). I might also have to ask him about his new one, The Counter Revolution of 1836: Texas slavery & Jim Crow and the roots of U.S. Fascism (International Publishers, 2022).

August 11: Postmambo Sessions presents a conversation with T.J. English, historian of organized crime and devoted music fan who co-led our beyond-splendid 2019 Havana Nocturne Postmambo Cuban Music Seminar based on his best-selling book of the same name. We'll talk about his brand-new title (pub date Aug. 2) Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld.

* * *
Come with us!  There's still time to join us, but it's coming up soon.  August 15-22: Postmambo is off to the Pacific region of Colombia for the Postmambo Colombian Music Seminar with co-host Dr. Michael Birenbaum Quintero. It's time to register and book that flight.  Trailer here:

Feb. 1-6, 2023: For the Funk Of It, live in New Orleans. Registration is open now. Write me . . .

* * *

Monday, June 13, 2022

Balzac: Fiction Needs Facts, Fiction Needs History, All Fiction Does

      . . . . The 19th C French novelists are a primary resource for thinking about writing/composing both fiction and history.  Balzac and Dumas are both particularly useful. But Dumas was nearly entirely concerned with the history of France provided in the pages of overt fiction. Balzac, however, thought constantly of the relationship of not just historical fiction to history, but the necessity of historical facts and verisimilitude to other fictional forms, particularly those forms we in the US, in this time, loosely call the realist novel, the novel of manners, and, the fiction of the fantastic.

Balzac came up a ‘system’ novel for the literature of realism – which term didn’t yet exist in his time – but was called by the 1820’s French Romantic painters, la couleur locale, and Balzac expanded to la couleur historique.

In describing that attempt, Balzac speaks of local color; in relation to the fiction of the period, his la couleur historique — is indeed more precise. For Balzac as for his contemporaries, truth could most easily be found in the history and expressed in literature with an historical setting: 

"Lit le roman historiques sont l'expression de la France et de la lit au XIXe siecle" (review of H. de Latouche, Fragoletta, 1829). He was to foreshadow Augustin Thierry's opinion, that history would impact nineteenth century fiction, as the young Romantics had experienced a violent reintegration into history, as a result of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The example of Sir Walter Scott merely gave a specifically literary dimension to an already intense fascination with history and historical change; and Scott would of course be Balzac's ideal for the whole of his mature literary career. His early aim was that of Scott and of Scott's other disciples, to reconstruct "l'esprit d'une epoque et d'un fait," to make popular the study of history through a form less boring perhaps than the scholarly essays inspired by la Clio classique. 

Even at this early stage, however, Balzac seems to call for a greater degree of truth than do many of his contemporaries. For him, historical fact was to serve as more than a mere springboard for the poetic imagination. He could say that the historical novel should not aspire to the rigorous veracity of scholarly history, that historical figures should have a peripheral role in what is after all a work of fiction. He criticized Vigny for having used history to his own ends:

avait vu quelques scenes poetiques, et il les avait Verite, pour nous convaincre que les artistes viven qu'il s'agit bien moins de mettre le vrai dans le fau le vrai" (review of M. James, Richelieu, 1830).

 Balzac, as he expressed it ten years later, was the exact opposite of literary truth which Vigny developed in his preface to Reflexions sur la verite dans l'art: "L'art du roman vrai dans tous les details, quand son personnage es la litterature, I, 1840).

Even Balzac's excursions into fantastique practiced by Ε. T. A. Hoffmann are dose of reality. The authenticity of details is a point many times in the articles and prefaces he wrote. A realist may deal in fiction, but he must never relinquish fact, "l'immense verite des details." Balzac's rapid abandonment of the historical and fantastique may well be explained by his judgment of  Indiana (1832)*:

 "Ce livre-la est une reaction de la verite contre le fantastique, du temps present contre le moyen-äge, du drame intime contre la bizarrerie des incidents ä la mode, de l'actualite simple contre l'exageration du genre historique."

What had originally been a quest for truth, an imitation of nature, had rapidly become the vehicle for the greatest excesses of the literary imagination. The public had grown tired, Balzac wrote in the preface to La Peau de chagrin (1831), his first important work with a contemporary setting, of "l'histoire de France." Les Chouans appeared in 1829, which also saw the publication of Merimee's Chronique du regne de Charles IX; only two years later Balzac followed his elder, Stendhal, in writing a chronique du XIXe siecle. ....

... the matter might change; the method had not.  The recreation of the past which is the task of the historian would  always remain for Balzac the most adequate analogy to the novelist's undertaking. He intended to write "l'histoire oubliee par tant  toriens, celle des moeurs." Charles Nodier had defined the novelist as historien de moeurs as early as 1817; for Balzac the term became a constant point of reference. He repeatedly proclaimed himself an historian of manners and morals, "plus historien que romancier"; he referrs to his work as "cette longue histoire des moeurs modernes mises en act. He claimed merely to be an humble copyist, the secretary of his society as he said novelists had always been. The gift he prized above addition to the ability to give artistic form to what one had to say, was the accurate observation of reality, which made the roman de mores a more difficult genre than the historical novel. The Balzacian notion of contemporary mores demands "des connaissances presque techniq tandis qu'un roman historique ne veut que la science, des recher et de la lecture". ....

- - - - Balzac's Theory of the Novel / Maurice Z. Shroder / L'Esprit Créateur / Vol. 7, No. 1, Honoré de Balzac (Spring 1967), pp. 3-10 (8 pages) / Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press /

To see why Balzac believed it was more difficult to give artistic form to novels which are histoire des moeurs modernes mises en act -- the novels of contemporary manners -- one of his own works will provide an example. The subject of Illusians perdues (Lost Illusions) is a young man who burns to write literature, who has a decent gift, and the business of writing and publishing.

For those of us in the US, thinking of our own history and fiction that is inspired by our history, our own locale couleur and  locale historique, our National Archives (much available via online portal)  is and excellent resource.

When I'm asked what are the most important tools for writing good historical fiction, I always respond there are five.

1) voracious reading of the respected historians and fiction writers too -- and particularly those who wrote contemporary history of the period in which one's tale and characters are made;

2) Read the newspapers of the period -- that is, if your period had newspapers, but it will have some source of news, if only the local gossips. Indeed, George Eliot made brilliant use of these in Middlemarch, set several decades before she wrote it, though newspapers not only proliferated in that period already, and, indeed, a fictional newspaper is part of the fiction too; [Indeed, Laidislaw goes from his ambition to be a fine artist to working in newspapers and politics -- another case of literature's Illusions perdues!]

3) Look at the arts created in the period -- this includes listening to the music of the time, even though recording wasn't yet invented, probably, one may still learn something important, since making music played a role in so many lives, that speaks to class, and even to politics of those alive at the time;

4) Spend a lot of time with and the National Archives, and with JSTOR, generally now, since pandemic, available to you at home instead of needing to be at your local library, haunt the historical societies and museums of the place;

5) Go to the places one's characters go (which, as we see above, George Sand had not done).

A novel by George Sand, published in 1832:

Indiana is a novel about love and marriage written by Amantine Aurore Dupin; it was the first work she published under her pseudonym George Sand. Published in April 1832, the novel blends the conventions of romanticism, realism and idealism. As the novel is set partly in France and partly in the French colony of Réunion, Sand had to base her descriptions of the colony, where she had never been, on the travel writing of her friend Jules Néraud.

If one has slogged through Indiana, as I have, one sees indeed how Balzac came to the conclusion that it was far more difficult to write fiction as convincing art for a novel of manners than for historical fiction


In the meantime, things continue to roll along.  So much to do, so many places to go in the service of the doing -- please, please, please let neither of us contract covid.

The Heat Storm is reaching us today.  My concern goes out to our family and friends in West and the Southwest, and now the Middle West too.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Postmambo Thursday Will Not Be Tonight

      . . . . Since covid, two Thursdays of every month are Postmambo events via Zoom.  The first monthly event is discussion and interaction led by a special guest with expertise and achievement in some area of Afro-latin, African. African American, etc. history, culture, music, spirituality.  The second Thursday is Postmambo Movie Night*, with a film connected to these matters as well, in some way or other.  Our most recent film was the recently remastered, remixed, etc.

Deep Blues, (originally released in 1991; remastered 2021) a deep dive into the Blues, led by the great late, lamented Bob Palmer, presenting the music made by names that everybody doesn't know. **

This week we canceled the First Thursday, because, at 8 PM there will be live television coverage of the first January 6th Investigation Committee's hearings.  This first one begins at our usual start time of 8 PM eastern time USA, the others will be daytime events.  Knowing the people are who attend Postmambo Zoom Thursdays, we know that like us, they want to tune in to the hearings.  You all probably are the sort who want to tune into the hearings as well.

The hearings can be watched on most major TV news stations, at least this Thursday’s, on ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC and CNN.  I suppose C-Span too?  The usual suspect will not be covering the hearings at all, much less broadcasting them, it says.

* Postmambo Movie Night will e back next week, on June 16, 8  PM, 

with Elder's Corner, directed by Siji Awoyinka, who will join us on Zoom for conversation afterward.

 **   Bob was in many ways el V's inadvertent mentor into ethnomusicology.  We drove over Cuba in a Lada together, twice, in the summer of 1990, el V and Bob never stopping their dialogue which covered everything from Bob's early life to 1950's horror films, and music, music, music. Bob also introduced el V into infinite variety of worlds that are New Orleans.

Later, when Bob's daughter made a documentary about her father, The Hand of Fatima (2009), she cast el V to be the voice-over, to be the Voice of Bob, speaking words Bob had written.


Ooooo, lovely el V -- he just returned bringing me sausage, eggplant, squash and egg pappardelle for dinner, and! -- 

Tom Holland's Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West (2005).  I have been wanting to read this for a long time.  Now having Herodotus's say regarding the Persians, and working on getting Xenophon's account of the March, so recently into my sieve mind, I should be well prepared for Holland's take.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

La Lucha

     . . . . Oyez, Oyez. Breaking News: Essential information for persons wishing lives of success and satisfaction, that this is so is so announced by The Media --  lip gloss is back.  As it is written, so let it be done.


READING so far this month, begins with finishing off Guy Gavriel Kay's All the Seas of the World (2022). This is an inert, monotonal narrative, content to lie page flat. There is no differentiation in voices of characters, or the pacing. The pages, however, are stuffed with  ponderous ponders about random acts changing lives and events and characters, as well as the female protag’s constant pondering on her past as a slave, which involved sexual violation from a master she quite liked – but she killed him, by the means he trained her to do and the weapons he gave her. This all happens before the book opens. She never tells us why she killed him, or why she killed him when she did, until almost the end, which is pretty anticlimactic.  Also because he dissed her by ordering her have sex with somebody beneath her.  A stable hand, I think, who smelled like shit.  That pissed her off so much, that then she killed him. This all has already happened, as mentioned.  We begin our journeys with people who are very successful and rich due to their abilities to plot and scheme, to kill or have others kill on one's behalf, which killings change or move along each others’ lives as they interact. Their, then, interconnecting circles of wealth, agency and power, expand to intersect and ally with other rich, powerful, successful characters, which make them ever more wealthy and powerful.  Plus we are led to believe they deserve this because they worthy wielders of power and choosers of life and death for others. The author's vaunted ‘quarter turn’ from history and real locations is frustrating because one is always thinking of the real places and history. The author’s pretense at fantasizing by quarter turns the Romance languages, which turn the places and words into mush and meaningless – when the real thing has meaning -- has only become more intolerable as the books grind on. Everything irritating in this author's works from the gitgo was foregrounded and dominant in this one. This is particularly the case for a reader who has read the same popular histories for the 15th and 16th century Mediterranean, the Turks and the Ottoman Empire as the author has read.

Jennifer Haigh's Mercy Street (2022) is first contemporary set novel I can stand in a long time. Something as counter to the smug sorts such as Julian May Jonas's Vladímír (2022) or Victor LaValle's The Changeling (2017) as one get.  Haigh has no trouble finding ‘something to write about, unlike Jonas's novelist stand-in protagonist laments. Haigh's narrative is straight forward, no tricks, no structuralist maneuvers, no up author’s own ass interiority solipcist ponderous ponderings. Just a range of characters, particularly female characters born in poverty, who stay in poverty – often due to early pregnancy, set mostly in Boston around winter 2015 i (we were in Boston  several times that winter, and recall the endless snow and storm vividly) and New England. An abortion clinic is the connection among the characters who are clinic staff, their lives, the people they know who aren’t the patients -- their all important weed dealers, the patients, the antiabortionists.  It's real w/o being in the least misery porn or hopeless. It is the most realist, realistic, realism contemporary novel with a lot of women I've encountered since maybe the 70's and 80's.

As far as the ongoing READING ALOUD TOGETHER BEFORE LIGHTS OUT, after nearly 10 weeks, this past Monday, we finished The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories. (2007) Edited by Robert B. Strassler. A New Translation by Rosalind Thomas. “The most densely annotated, richly illustrated and most user-friendly edition of the Histories ever to appear.”  So user friendly is this edition that not only did we read aloud all the appendices, we also read aloud the glossary. We are currently following the Landmark Herodotus, with The Landmark Xenophon's Anabasis (2021), dited by Shane Brennan and David Thomas.  "... the definitive edition of the ancient classic--also known as The March of the Ten Thousand or The March Up-Country--which chronicles one of the greatest true-life adventures ever recorded."

For engrossing non-fiction READ ALONE, I'm treating myself to another Roger Crowley title, Conquerers: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire (2015).  Anyone with an interest in the history of the "Christians" confronting the realities of Muslim empires, Crowley is essential.  His 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West (2005) is the best depiction of the Fall of the Red Apple to the Ottomans.


CURRENTLY WATCHING the Netflix continuation reboot of Borgen (2022), the popular here, and in the UK, former Danish series, featuring Danish politician, Birgitte Nyborg.  Perhaps what interests this viewer the most is how the Russians in this series are already bad guys due to Ukraine, though obviously, when the series was being written and shot, the invasion hadn't happened yet.  I see this awareness of Russia's intentions toward Ukraine, as well as what thugs they are everywhere, thus are made villains earlier in many television programs, particularly in British crime series.  Here also, in, for instance, the Amazon Prime Bosch.  Quite a change from the days of The American, where Russians protagonist spies here in the US are overtly working to destroy the US, were lauded as The Best Evah!  It's about family!   (But the Russians never evah fooled John le Carré.)

PREMIERE - CRITICS SCREENING of the Afro-futurist sf musical set in Rwanda, Neptune Frost.  It's not like anything else.


GENERAL DAILY WORK ACTIVITY  tends to revolve around the now, nearly completed, complete with the 5:1 professional movie theater sound technology, Tierra Sagrada.  So far, in various stages of production and editing, it has been viewed on one of our Postmambo Movie Nights, at the Big Ears Film Festival in Knoxville back at the end of March, at the King Juan Carlos theater at NYU.  It is now scheduled for some churches and colleges in New Jersey and Connecticut.  El V's taking it to Cuba later this month to show it to the people who are in it.

Activity also around going to New Orleans next month, to prospect for next winter's Postmambo Travelers trip, and in August to Colombia -- Cali and environs -- the Pacific coast, which may be the most African spot in the Western Hemisphere, though certainly Haiti and Bahia can give that designation a run for the title.

Speaking of Brasil (Bahia), the country's largest publishing house, which also owns a chain of bookstores, has acquired the rights to translate all our books into Portuguese and publish them there.  

Speaking of the UK, an old radio piece that el V created for public radio back in the day, got picked up for a program on the BBC-- it was wild listening to it via BBC on line.

Speaking of New Orleans, el V's working out how to manage Cornell University's orchestra getting there, staying there, eating there, working with NO musicians, and getting home again, for the spring semester.


Memorial Day was a great get-away, company, food and weather had us spending from 3 PM - to nearly midnight in friends' courtyard garden -- with nary a mosquito bite!  That was the longest span of hours away from our apartment since covid (yes, everyday more people we know have it, people who are vaxxed, generally careful, some of them have gotten break through covid three times already)  unless we were out of NYC all together.

Knowing our work matters, our friends, keep us going despite the weight of fury, bitterness, depression, despair. 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Ukraine Isn't Tuning Into New Orleans Right Now, But Russia Hangs In Cuba

     . . . . February ends. Another el sucko de dicko day – with the negative add of it being Monday.  However, here it is nearly the middle of the afternoon and the temperature is 27°, the highest it's been all day.  Russia supposedly in talks but beginning to reduce Ukranian residential areas to rubble, for all that world and his own nation’s opinion have almost moved Putin from a guy you can deal with, a guy you can live with, good for business, into the columns titled Monsters of History, providing moral and other sorts of support to Ukraine's resistance. 

Do any of soch media's newly minted Ukraine experts remember how not so long ago they hoorahrahrawed The Americans as the best thing that ever happened on television and how much they loved, admired, and sympathized with its two primary protagonists, who were planted Russian spies here in the USA to aid, assist and abet in any way they could devise, the downfall of the United States government?  Like a Russian yacht, from the gitgo it seemed more than likely that under the layers of production financing there was a deep connect to Russian money.  If that were suggested though, being in the realm of tinfoil hat delusion, well, one didn't, did one?  

Beyond that, it is still something nearly impossible to understand, why such middle-of- the-road, white, prosperous folks, particularly young males, enjoyed so much identification with these protagonists.  Well, one thing the 2016 campaign and elections and faux noose, and red caps and gerrymandering and hate campaigns against everyone who wasn't white, male and rich, outrage for public health and education and equality and justice and tolerance for all taught us -- why yes Russia has been meddling in everything, including the so-called US government head-up-Putin's ass giving Cuba back to Russia.

Which is taking a dreadful toll on Cubans and Cuba, by the way.  Which if  here was any fabric to spare and accessible on Cuba, we could well be seeing Ukraine flags there too.  But as the Cubans don't even have food, well -- and don't have a Fidel to tell the Russia "Go Fuck Yourself" now, and more porkalotetzy Russian oligarchs and their yachts are arriving every day as more ports close to them -- which means what little food available will be gobbled by the Russians.

We are in awe too, of the acts of courage being taken by Russians against this war, as well as having so much for that of the Ukrainians.  Doubtless one of the most common searches on internet images these days is this.

In the meantime, from From North Dakota's Fargo-Moorhead's InForum -- access to stories by subscription only.

"North Dakota tax dollars are financing Putin's regime in Russia

North Dakota's Legacy Fund is invested in bonds to the Russian government, and that needs to stop immediately."

 Dayem, now whose bright idea was it to do this, hmm? and now much did they get paid? 


     . . . . Easy to forget but, hey today is Lundi Gras -- and tomorrow's Mardi Gras.  Eat some damned King Cake you all.

The great New Orleans radio station WWOZ that streams and broadcasts specifically New Orleans music, had about 100 Ukrainians tuning in daily.  As of this afternoon there are only 8 tuning in . . . .

Update:  O my, here it is evening, and those same 8 listeners are still able to tune it – for a half hour at a time, but somehow, they keep returning to hear New Orleans music!

Yes, we tune in streaming from here as well.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Killing Eve - Again Watching Preposterous Clothes

      . . . . Killing Eve (2020) season 3 BBC-AMC. Continuing in this winter’s “Watching Preposterous Shows With Preposterous Clothes.”*

What to wear playing golf in Scotland when preparing to commit another murder.

I still have no idea why this psychopathic killer has the same name as this old and strict poetic form. Maybe the book series from which the BBC series was adapted says?  I've never read them.

Because I finished Inventing Anna (which I really liked, though I disliked all of the principal figures except Neff), and there's nothing compelling right now, I began watching season 3 of Killing Eve.  Which I'd been told by all and sundry of the media was just awful. So it must be its sheer makes no sense whatsoever that I enjoyed it so much? Also Jodie Comer's sociopathic grin?  Which comes so often? Especially after dumping a baby in a Parisian garbage bin, whose mother she had whimsically killed with a tuning fork?  Being given a new handler who is Succession's Shiv and Co.'s demented mom (Harriet Walter)? She is the world's meanest (surrogate)mom in Killing Eve too, (while Eve's birth mom is even meaner. We have one of this season's themes, folks.

Harriet Walker, being mean to her Succession kids

The cast is mainly terrific female actors, who, preposterous as the show might be, appear to be enjoying themselves in it, so whether the show itself makes any sense or not, there's plenty of value provided.  It's often a comedy, in its psychopathic way. I'm still laughing at the matter-of-fact manner in which Villanelle picks up the crying baby, carries him over to the garbage bin, comes back to the café table, while elderly Dasha, her Russian Keeper/Handler of Assassins, doesn't even comment, and doesn't care. 
And ya, I do really like Sandra Oh's hair as much as Villanelle does.

Villanelle giving Eve the side-eye.

Plus the great plus that Carolyn's character (Fiona Shaw) is so funny, 

and even funnier with demure daughter, Geraldine, played by Gemma Whelan (the the heavy boots and armor, the sword and dagger, which never leave her side, playing Yara Greyjoy, a buccaneering ship's captain for the Iron Islands, in GOT), while mom holds meetings in the bathtub and beats down the guys who interfere with what she wants.

O Geraldine, whose mom won't cry.

This seems to encapsulate this season – women behaving w/o even being aware of the millions of social norms societies everywhere have decreed are to govern every bit of behavior performed by women, from how they dress, to how they should behave when being pushed out of their job, to how they treat children, even to how they should react to the death of a son, a death of a brother – Carolyn’s character doesn’t grieve, she pulls out every devious capacity she’s achieved through years of practice and experience to find out if his murder was committed by The Twelve. She's obsessed with cracking them -- this is her job! That her daughter, who cries, is played by She-Who-Once-Was-Yara Lovejoy makes Carolyn's behavior all the more pointed for me somehow. 

“Just so you know, I’m kind of a big deal in this industry,” says Villanelle, who -- movin' on up the career chain -- supposedly is training a rookie assassin.  As on the job, he's an under-performer, she kills him.  Villanelle hasn’t got time for this shit of overseeing and training-on-the-job. Season 3 is so much about these women and their jobs, their work, in one unexpected, and often, very funny satiric scene, after another. All of them mention often, how good they are at their jobs, and how often the higher ups attempt to replace them with time-servers and incompetents. Which isn't how women are supposed to be, either.

Among the many complaints that Killing Eve, season 3, wasn't very good, was the story that seemingly everyone wants, Eve And/With Villanelle, their mutual obsession and thwarting of their mutual desire, their hunger for life that isn't day-to-day** was split up.  Mostly we follow this season's events of Eve and Villanelle separately, as on a split screen.  I'm not everyone, so I particularly like this split screen effect, because just Eve and Villanelle is claustrophobic.  I liked following all the other figures the show gives us, as they interact with each other, as well as with Eve and Villanelle, and the variety of their obsessions and thwarted desires, particularly for family ties with mum and dad, and the endless variants of betrayal, treachery and intrigue. 

“Are You From Pinner?” Episode #5, in which Villanelle re-visits her family, is sound tracked to Elton John, with whom the youngest family member is obsessed.  It mostly takes place in Villanelle’s Russian family, out of which she was expelled by Mom Tatiana at age 9 when she dumped Villanelle in the orphanage for being ‘dark’ – “Like you!” ripostes Villanelle. It includes the cray-cray conspiracy convictions held by the masses of the hinterlands, i.e. the ‘rural’ population of Russia (like the sacralized ‘rural’ population of the US), that we are being manipulated by lizard people, the government is trying to kill us, etc. – shared by a goodly portion of USians also lost to facts and reality. The episode hits its peak bonkers splendor in the Harvest Festival scenes in which great fun is found in the Dung Toss competition -- which Villanelle, of course, wins -- as she wins everything in which she competes, disturbing her mother. 

Such overt satire – that is at least as much a satire of contemporary Russia as of the contemporary UK and contemporary USA – quite different from the first two seasons.  For one thing, now BREXIT is in effect, no longer can UK citizens move w/o trouble to any country in the EU. Which means the production can’t travel either, w/o adding headache amounts of time and cost to the budget.  Also, a lot of this feels foreshadowing the current Russian invasion of Ukraine crisis.

So much reference to Russian manipulation and nefarious international dealing are in this season. Among those particularly striking are in Episode #7, where we glimpse a man who went out of his way to bump into Konstantin seconds before Konstantin collapses with a 'heart attack ' -- pricking people with poisons is an assassin go-to for those the Russian powers want eliminated, and they have done so in broad daylight even in London. Helene, another Russian Assassin Keeper Agent, says she loves Villanelle because she creates chaos, chaos in which dysfunction thrives and in which power can be overthrown and power seized -- see, o, well you know, not just Russia but so many others acting or trying to act on the world stage such as Our Most Famous Chaos Demon here in the USA.  

Starting with how the characters compel our eyeballs to look at them (with the assistance of Preposterous Clothes), this season had echoes of Orphan Black, such as how it uses music, as well as Villanelle taking on one identity after another. In “Are You From Pinner?” Villanelle’s mother is even named, ‘Tatiana,’ recalling Tatiana Maslany.  Unlike the clones, though, Villanelle is always and only Villanelle, no matter how impeccably she acts, impersonates, and costumes. This is intentional, because these are personas for Eve for only so long as it is useful, entertaining, or she’s interested in wearing them, just as the clones intentionally were different individuals.

In the end, it’s just Villanelle and Eve, on London's Tower Bridge, still unable to quit each other, though, as Villanelle observes in an earlier episode, “This isn’t good for both of us.”  Their people, their families, the agencies, and the governments are all revealed to be toxic and corrupt, disloyal and dishonest, only using them as they see fit until choosing to discard them.  This was brilliant satire on everything from family ties, international conspiracies, secret services, and work.  As Russian Keeper Agent Dasha says to Villanelle, ""Management is not easy. It's watching someone do job worse than you. That's why it sucks." Villanelle handles the younger competition that Helene brings in and kills her -- which so many, in other lines of work, wish they could do too, many times a day.

I am looking forward to how the fourth season will play out, since now it’s 2022, in a world that has been re-landscaped by BREXIT, the pandemic, Russia and the rise of authoritarianism everywhere.

“If I killed everyone who betrayed me there wouldn’t be anyone left.”

---- Villanelle/Oksana season 3, episode #1, " Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey"

* On this list of television I've watched this winter, beyond Killing Eve, in which the costumes, the more ridiculous the better, are often the point:  Emily in Paris, My Fair Lady, The Eyes of  Tammy Bakker, And Just Like That, The Gilded Age, Agatha Raisin, and, Inventing Anna.

** I would love it so much if season 4, premiering here on BBC America - AMC next Sunday, February 27th, gives us at least a scene of Eve and Villanelle during pandemic lockdowns -- can you even imagine being locked down with Villanelle in the vicinity?  We've already seen what she does in an orphanage and in prison.

I'm sorry I won't be able to watch it like I did Season 3, one episode every night, back-to-back until finished. This is one of those series that benefits a great deal from binging because there are so many subtle connections and commentaries going on that one will not notice with seven days separating each episode -- and especially, when the connection is to an episode that was 2 - 3 weeks ago. I'm guessing that's one reason so many people felt disappointed in this season, that and that the show's always darkly comic tone and viewpoints shifted some degrees overtly satiric.  So many male viewers, who just adore the cringery Succession, the 'dark comedy' that demands our sympathy and identification with the very people who have destroyed us and our nation, just hated this season of Killing Eve.

"Where's my hot lezzie sex?  I was promised sex! Women=sex!  Where is it?" 

Instead, women killing anybody they decide needs killing.  Doing it without sex.  Being very funny. In twisted, deranged ways, but they are their own twisted, deranged ways.  A room of their own, so to speak.


     . . . . In the meantime, it has been cold, so cold.  I don't quite remember it being like this before, here in NYC.  There were days in which nothing we did got us completely warm, no matter layers of wool and cashmere, no matter space heaters, no matter the radiators pumping, no matter the cooking and eating.  The only times were thoroughly warm all the way through, from top to bottom, from fingers, hands and feet, was in bed, sleeping cuddled together under blanket, quilt and comforter.  The good thing about that, was sleep was deep and peaceful.  Talking about this cold at the 6-person combo Valentine's and Birthday party some friends hosted for me last week, as one does/did, C said, "The only time I ever felt this penetration of cold right into my bones is when I've been London."  C nailed it.  That's exactly what it was like.  The air in this cold has stayed noticeably damp -- and more than twice we had snow, as well as rain for 12 - 15 hours straight.  Not heavy, generally, but constant.

Working on credit sequences, typefaces, and titles, getting Tierra Segrada in shape for the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, at the end of March. Continuing with Postmambo events and movie night via Zoom.  And cooking.  O lordessa, do I cook!  Tonight it's ground lamb, spinach, mushrooms and couscous.

Friday, January 28, 2022

I Acted Weird But So Did They

      . . . . Two plump robin red breasts bopping along the Houston side sward of an NYU faculty housing complex.  I yelled at them, “What are you doing here?  A blizzard’s coming!" Along came a guy running nude except for earbuds, fone in armholder, shorts and sneakers.  Behind was a woman, and her dog, bundled up in matching parkas and boots.

The storm had already begun by 9 AM,  though mildly, with something between rain and snow falling. It’s going to snow here until about midnight tomorrow, Windydotcom says.  Good thing I went out yesterday for more milk and etc. If what They Say is the Great Blizzard of '22, highways and other transportation systems could be shut down for a while, i.e. also supply lines.

There is the additional relief too, that the super was able to fix the bedroom radiator yesterday (this necessitated shutting down the building's boiler while doing so), so we can now turn it off as well as on.  The next nights and days will be bitter, They Say. 

The latest news for NYC and Covid is the new "Stealth" variant has been detected here.  This one seems to be even more contagious than Omicron.  So one does wonder if by mid-February we'll be back to mid-December, thanks to Stealth, and to Typhoid Sarah Palin and So Many Others just like her.  You know, I am getting mighty tired of this.

Due to inflation and the Fed's attempts to deal, covid, weather, Ukraine, crypto, and o so much more, the markets are roaring bears, for the most part.

Thus the first month of 2022 concludes with things maybe even worse than they were before?  Despite the astounding economic growth? and that hardly anyone who has been vaccinated got sick enough to be hospitalized or die?  Despite the splendid new White House kitty, Willow, who has the a face so adorable, even people who don't like cats cannot help but be charmed?

White House Willow! 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Hooray For the Tulips! Gilded Age Screens and History in Books!

      . . . . These weeks of below freezing temperatures are good for three very important things:

1) Kills off many strains of bacterias unfriendly to humans and other living beings;

2) Kills off mosquito larvae!

3) Tulips!  Bulbs need days of seriously cold weather underground to burst their dormancy before they can explode in all their glory.

     . . . Still, it is cold, which tends to keep one inside despite having those terrific respirator N95 masks that prevent one's lenses from fogging over, and even though one is fortunate enough to have all the right things to wear outside in below freezing weather, still in possession of easy mobility, while being perfectly comfortable temperature-wise.

     . . . . Fortunately lots of tv to watch and books to read.  

So Many say Julian Fellowes, he brought us the wildly popular Downtown Abbey, has struck out with The Gilded Age, which premieres tonight on HBO. If he has indeed struck out, my theory will be (though I do not swear to stick to that theory) is that he's got Cynthia Nixon playing a sweet, but feisty, spinster sister to an old Dutch aristo glum bitch snob, who wants NO NEW  MONEY HERE! ROBBER BARONS DEPART THESE PRECINTS WHERE I AM NOW! This, when Nixon's simultaneously appearing on HBO in the Sex And the City sequel series, And Just Like That, playing a middle-aged woman who falls madly in lust with a younger hotter than hot Irish-Mexican, non-binary lesbian butch-bitch, and thus blows up her marriage.  Also a couple of years after a risible run to be ... get this, folks! ... governor of the state!  But then, considering the clownships the last governors have been, perhaps that is too harsh on Cynthia Nixon (but still I'm sticking with my own theory that she's often a much better actor than she'd ever have been as governor).

Among the many things to watch I will be checking out The Gilded Age despite the media already telling me to miss it.

Media faux ‘discussion’ about Fellowes’s debut HBO series often includes mentions of other films/tv set (roughly) in the era, always starting with Scorsese's adaptation of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence (1993), part of his life-long work of putting (his) historical NYC on film. Unlike Fellowes's series, all of such films are adapted from novels, and so many of them part of the classic American Fiction canon. The other thing to keep in mind as contrast with Fellowes's series, is none of them were written for that marketing classification that publishing has labeled "Historical Fiction."

All of them were written by people who were part and parcel of the era about which they were writing -- it wasn't history, but the their present day lives, even if the time of the novel had succeeded by another era by the time it was published, such as Wharton’s Age of Innocence (1920).  

I regret the second part of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is left out of the list, particularly that week house party which open Meg's eyes to the realities of the age's marriage market. OTOH the only Little Women screen adaptation that even included the party was the latest, right before the pandemic. I also regret that no one has  thought of adapting for the screen several other Alcott works (which incidentally all are set in this Gilded Age and remark on its morals and mores, such as Eight Cousins, its sequel Rose in Bloom -- almost a harping on the excess of the era -- as is An Old-Fashioned Girl -- or the sequels to Little Women,  Little Men and Jo’s Boys

At the same time, these media writers don't include  Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and his Sister Carrie, both of which had films made from them too.  But then, they're in b&w, and don't have that kind of opulence of pretty things for our eyes to wallow in.

However, thanks to the BBC, Merchant-Ivory, Jane Campion and other fine directors, we have an entire set of on-screen adaptations from Henry James's many novels’ fractal examination of the manners and mores of the era!

     . . . . So many Fine Books to read to keep me from the cold of disenfrancisement and enforced isolation coz all the covidiots -- though lucky for us, our numbers for new infections are dropping, Yay.

Back to books. Currently reading:

Washington At the Plow: The Founding Farmer and the Question of Slavery (2021) by Bruce A. Ragsdale; 

The Bright Ages : A New History of Medieval Europe (2021) by Matthew Gabriele & David M. Perry.

What a unfortunate title! like that attempt to counter Grimdark with Noble Bright -- o gods! -- and how so many other terms so common in titles and labels are used so incorrectly, like HopePunk -- kiddos do you even know that punk was exactly about not having hope, that the future is only dystopian?, or for that matter, Blues, Jazz or Gumbo. It's as though the authors of their Bright Ages are determined to believe the 450's -800 are no different from 15th and 17th centuries -- and what about the centuries that come between?  They use Dark Ages and Medieval interchangeably. Argh! 

Slave Empire: How Slavery Built Modern Britain (2020 -- just available in the US) by Padraic X. Scanlan

Yes, one must tell them this because even today, in the year 2022, the UK outside of Ireland that is, refuse to admit it.  See, even published just today in the UK Guardian, a review of Capitalism and Slavery by Dr. Eric Williams, written at Oxford in 1938, one of the first books I read, back in the 1980's, that shaped to this day my thinking on the subject of Atlantic-New World slave trade and slavery and how it made the capitalist system possible, and financed the Industrial Revolution. Plus, see the first title in this list of four!

Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America's Empire (2022) by Jonathan M. Katz.

As he is writing about places and events I know very well, including having been in Cuba and all those locations many, many times, he's been caught out as wrong on a few things, but it's a fascinating, enlightening and useful book. Let's just not let being a journalist get one to thinking one is an historian. Among his journalist's expertise though, for which I'm grateful, Katz does a thorough job of describing the attempt to fascist reichwing, supremacist rich white to coup the US government with the same sorts of groups and financing that brought both Hitler and Mussolini to power -- all legally (Franco did by military conquest; they did not) -- and how we have the same sorts of groups right now, operating in exactly the same manner as with Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.



Monday, January 17, 2022

Martin Luther King Day


   . . . .  Martin Luther King is weeping today, even though he is in heaven.

His mother, Alberta Christine Williams King, was assassinated, by a 23-year-old Black Hebrew Israelite six years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Sunny, Warm Interregnum

      . . . . For the first time since sometime in December, when Omicron arrived, here is unaccustomed cheerfulness. The day began early, with stepping into the outdoors, into sun and warmth. Today's an interregnum after a stretch of below freezing days, and prior to the plunge into single digit temps for the weekend, plus a wind, snow, then rain storm into Monday and temperatures below freezing for the coming week.  

Dashed out wearing the respiratory N95 -- no fogged glasses! --  to TJ's, first thing, in hopes of an emptier store.  Late in the morning I danced out to the library, for another armload of mysteries, just in time for the freeze. Followed up with a big shopping at MW, this time el V with me for the carrying.  

Everybody is masked up, even on the street -- the tourists must have gone home. We've all been hunkering in self-imposed isolation, our sort of NYCers anyway, due to the Omicron forest fire, and the cold, so we're all running around today to stock up on more groceries, for the next week of  bunkering against the cold, and in the likely case of borked supply chains due to weather.  Today, though, anything one wants and needs are on the neatly stocked shelves. I do hear though, from the elderly in our building and others, what can be harder to get -- meaning, so far, only they've had to wait, are prescription medications.  As for groceries, I've been hearing our persent, local, good fortune isn't shared everywhere across the country.

They Are Saying that maybe Omicron's peaking here?  We should be so lucky, since before Christmas. everyday we were told of at least one more person we know down with it, or someone calling with the news, "Family member/s/me positive and / or down with it."


     . . . . People elsewhere are also in self-isolation. 

Tonight's the first Postmambo Movie Night of 2022; Postmamboists across the country are saying, "Thank God! We're going crazy shut-in."  Tonight's program is NOLA Reconnect/Postmambo's first one of 2022.

Presiding, via Zoom, is Dr. Elizabeth McAlister, author of Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora:


Funerary Rites in Haitian Vodou

Honoring Frisner Augustin, Legendary Priest of the Drum

. . . . The second January Postmambo Movie Night is Thursday, January 20, 8 p.m. Eastern. 

In honor of the Jack Kerouac centennial, Postmambo Movie Night presents Pull My Daisy (Robert Frank, 1959)."We'll talk to the film's composer, David Amram, who sat next to Kerouac in the studio as he improvised the voice-over narration. David is still gigging at the age of 91! We'll talk with him about his scores for The Manchurian Candidate and Splendor in the Grass, his friendship with Thelonius Monk, his visit to then-forbidden Cuba on the path-breaking 1977 "jazz cruise," and lots more."

Here are some, not all, of our recent NOLA Reconnect Sessions

Dec. 9: Richard Morse with Dr. Elizabeth McAlister

Nov. 11: Erol Josué with Dr. Elizabeth McAlister

Oct. 31: Jean-Daniel Lafontant live from Temple Na-Ri-Vèh on Fèt Gède

Oct. 31: C. Daniel Dawson

Oct. 14: Paul Beaubrun with Dr. Elizabeth McAlister

Sep. 13: A Conversation with Dr. Ivor Miller

Aug. 12: Rafael Delgadillo on 19th-century New Orleans

July 8: Gianluca Tramontana and Dr. Ben Lapidus on changüí

"Life Changing!" has become one of the most common responses to the Postmambo/NOLA Reconnect experiences, despite Zoom!


P.S.  El V has become a convert to toast, via my sour dough bread discovery.  He wants toast with everything!