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

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Travel Turbulence

      . . . .There are ... mornings.

Having arrived home very late the night before from a long day of traveling and long week of working non-stop, one is sittings in the kitchen, as one does, in pjs, drinking coffee, unshaved, and the BBC calls, wanting one to go live on television, right now. 

Pablo Milanés has died. 

El V, hardly alive, turned them down. He said was because I was still asleep – slept late –since we'd been up by 7 AM yesterday and didn't get to bed until nearly 3 -- Thanksgiving travel was already jamming up the airports.   But he said it was really because he didn’t want to.

He'd also just gotten the news that his dear Eddie Palmieri is in hospital, a stomach hemorrhage. 

El Vs upset. He was close to Pablo, and very close to two of his performing children, particularly Haydée Milanés, who have great careers in their own right.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

From Da List -- Santos: Skin to Skin

     . . . . Pardon my delay in getting this out, but I wanted y'all to know that tonight (Thursday. Nov. 17)-- at 8 pm eastern, from New Orleans!  Postmambo Movie Night proudly presents a special virtual screening of Santos: Skin to Skin, 

 a new feature-length documentary -- still making the festival rounds -- about our colleague, percussion master John Santos, followed by a conversation with filmmakers Kathryn Golden and Ashley James, as well as Mr. Santos himself.

You need to be on the parallel [seminar] list to attend.  If you aren't already on it and want to attend, just send me an e-mail with the word [seminar] in the subject line.

The Zoom link goes out at 6 pm eastern. Thanks! 


Whew, it's cold!  But not anywhere near as cold as it is back up in NY.  Worse They Say Buffalo and Watertown are probably getting 4 feet of snow between today and Sunday.

Monday, November 14, 2022

The Struggle That Failed 1919 -- 1945

     . . . . Hitler: A Career (German: Hitler – Eine Karriere) (1977)

West German documentary film about the career of Adolf Hitler directed by Christian Herrendoerfer and Joachim Fest and written by Fest, a German historian.

 Everything on screen is documentary film footage shot at the time in real time, though the narration – in English -- is not, and overdubbed.

This latest edition of the digitally restored period film footage, which the team that got this on Netflix did, taking out the herkyjerky fast walking and so on that we were used to from footage of the time – the miracles that can be done now.  It’s much easier watching this 1977 film in 2022 than it was to watch on television in 1977.

As per usual, my first question was the same as it always is when watching nazi documentaries. Where did the nazi organizers get these hundreds of thousands participants in the spectacles, that are viewed by an equal number of wildly cheering spectators, how is it possible the paraders and performers can execute the endless vast unison parading and maneuvers that, among other things, create monumental swastikas of human beings?  (Later in the film there's some analysis as to why so many of these spectacles were arranged at night -- the dark covered up much of the reality of what was there.)  I also think, seeing the scenes of the nazi youth groups how much I’d hated growing up in nazi Germany – those girl youth camps in which one is told that washing clothes for the family was more fun for girls than going to school, forced to play volleyball instead of reading books. They sound like mother did, having a fit when she asked, "Why don't you like anything about housework?" and I looked at her as insane.

Poland, is often regarded as comically out of date confronting Hitler’s invasion of tanks and aircraft, without any of the weapons and infrastructure of a modern army.* However, we forget -- if we ever knew -- how little time Poland had in the last 100 years or so to even BE A NATION, much less have the money or time to create a modern army, since the partition and disappearance of it in the 18th C. Under the circumstances, that it took Hitler’s forces 2 weeks to subdue Poland seems, to me, at least, admirable and truly heroic, not something for non-Poles to feel superior about. Not to mention our current home-grown nazis would never heroically make a stand like that against even an equal force, much less such an overwhelming one.  Shoot, they can't even stand up to not having somebody cooking breakfast and handing to them, or have teenage girls laugh at their trux.

On! To Moscow. Mud up to the horses’ shoulders. Mud past the tanks' treds.  Then snow, higher than the horses' bellies. This is footage shot on that advance, and the defeat WWII -- a scene of Hitler walking in snow behind the lines and the front's 'advance', stating, "I hate snow.  I never want to see snow again." Then going back to Germany, where, presumably some heads rolled, due to snow not foretold or removed.

Whilst the viewer ponders how so many of the scenes of vast numbers adoring Hitler and the nazis, united in joy of hatred, often in tears – thousands of girls melting down over the Beatles have nothing on these hormonal charges – we’ve been seeing in the last few years. 

* Poland's cavalry charge against tanks and aircraft is a myth.

The true story behind the myth is as follows.

On Sept. 1, 1939, a Polish Cavalry regiment operating along Poland’s northwestern border attacked a column of unsuspecting German infantry.

The invaders were quickly scattered, but before the Poles could celebrate, a squad of German armoured vehicles appeared on the scene and inflicted heavy casualties on the horsemen with their canons and machine guns.

The next day, war correspondents were brought to the scene and told that the Poles had charged German tanks.

Despite no one actually having witnessed the supposed charge, seemingly overnight the story spread across the globe and was quickly accepted as true. Both Time Magazine and The New York Times described the incident in hyperbolic detail; high ranking German officers recalled it in their memoirs; and even Winston Churchill mentioned it in his history of the Second World War.

I suppose we need not be surprised that one of the most solid, enduring platforms of this myth is a film the nazis shot to show their infinite military superiority to everyone?

…. Perhaps the most notorious example was the pseudodocumentary Kampfgeschwader Lützow, which featured staged footage of Polish cavalry charging panzer tanks. ….

Friday, November 11, 2022

Keepin' the Home Fires Burning

     . . . . Could this actually be a week in which decent people can have some joy?  The retreat from Kherson, inflation seeming to have hit peak, our midterms giving us the "Something not turning as out as bad as it could necer felt so good."

Somehow, the three feel related, along with the outcomes of both Colombia's and Brasil's presidential elections. Even so, I'm probably centering, wrongly, the US here?

OTOH, covid infections are increasing like mad here.  Glad I did the late autumn hair stylist visit early.  Also we are going back to NO next week.  Back in time for Thanksgiving with some friends -- who had covid, but are over it  But we won't have the usual second Thanksgiving we usually have with other friends, as they both have covid presently.  Pax is doing its job, but as one is so run down from years of caregiving and job, and the other is still recovering from emergency brain surgery, it's not so easy.

Another amiga has been subjected to round after round of chemo since June/July. She and I have email discussions about the books and television likes we have in common. The latest was around learning we both had liked The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism (2005) by Megan Marshall, is another of those biographies that work beautifully for me as well. I've read it, in fact, three times. 

Sophia Hawthorne was one of the sisters. She spent her life in Boston being sick, unable to walk or do housework.  The only treatment that worked for what ailed her was spending the winter in Cuba on a hacienda.  The further her ship got from the Boston, the better she felt, until, by the time she reached Cuba, she was quite, quite well.  She adored spending her mornings a-gallop on spirited horses of her host, across the river valley fields. Then, returning to Boston, the closer her ship got to US shores, and the closer to Boston, the more unwell she became.

 Reading this in the biography back then, sent me looking for Sophia's journals, and I found some material that el  V was able to use in his Cuba And Its MusicSophia Hawthorne was as racist and non-condemning of slavery as she could be, without coming right out and saying she believed slavery was a positive institution, but she was observant, so there were bits that were of use. Her remarks on the enslaved form part of the unlovely picture of our nation's history of Black hatred. 

I want to blame her husband, since Sophia's sisters were quite concerned with slavery and abolition.  Nat. Hawthorne, though, was quite a piece of work. All his life he was in bromance with Franklin Pierce, and, even, quite possibly, his lover.  Hawthorne wrote Pierce's presidential campaign political bio for excellent pay, received sinecure government posting from Pierce, was with him on his deathbed -- he asked for him, not Sophia -- was totally in the slaveocracy's pockets.  Hawthorne was vocally anti-abolitionist, and decisively told people discussions of slavery were boring and a waste of time, and he didn't care about slavery one way or the other.  Quite out-of-step with fellow Concordians.  Though Sophia's Cuban trips began before she knew Hawthorne, of course, so it was more like-to-like than caused by Hawthorne. My, this book, and the experience of it, like everything before 2016 and covid feels far, far away in time.  

Coincidence: as I finished Sister Novelists, another biography of sisters appears --a new book about the Grimkés: The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery In An American Family, by Kerri Greenidge.  It seems to be a study intended to debunk their reputations as anti-slaverites -- the review I read suggests they profited immensely from slavery.

So, this morning, receiving the news the library had The Grimkés available, I dashed off to the library to pick it up, because it wasn't raining much, despite we being in Tropical Storm Nicola predicted wind and rain. I knew it was Veterans Day, but didn't stop to think this is a holiday and the libraries are closed.  Duh.  I'm smart that way.  Though I was wearing the rain-snow-storm boots I got last week, so I'm not so dumb that way!  Had on rain coat and carried umbrella too.  Which was good because the storm hit hard as I was returning home, due to the fog and heavy cloudfs, dark came even earlier than the roll back of EDST makes it. We're currently in fog, as well as dark, since the temps are fairly warm -- in the 60's. Well stocked with what we need, and even what we want, we are happily cozy and comfortable.  How lucky can we get?

The week was quite lively, while we ignored the pre-election and pre-results backbenching with all our hearts.  El V did another Postmambo Zoom last night, this time with live guest and his film,  from Lome, in Togo, Africa.    He also went out to several music gigs, and we taught two classes.  

Hope the internet stays on -- it's gone out twice now in less than 24 hours.  If no problems I plan to watch more Crown, season 5, 2022. This is the season to turn the mythologies of Di and Charlie inside out. The first two eps dull and dreary.  The actor doing Di is lacking in all that made cameras and screens bewitched by her.  We see her being acidly mocking and mean, o so not quite subtly (due to the bile and acid of bulimia?). It got interesting in the 3rd episode which was generally only about the Al-Fayed family and the man who was the Duke of Windsor’s valet until death – Fayed sr. hires Black Barbadian, Sydney Johnson, whom the Duke had taught everything that makes an English gentleman.  According to the show, Johnson was the one who advised Al-Fayed to buy palace estate, Villa Windsor, decaying on the outskirts of Paris – and Harrods Department Store, then finally buy some position in a most prestigious equine something or other so he can sit next to, and, finally, meet and speak with the Queen. Queenie’s not about to allow this unworthy vulgarian colonial his reward. She and her Equerry send Diana instead. The Princess insults him, and they get along famously.  Di and Elizabeth are equally nasty in this sequence. Later, at E’s court, the members eagerly check with each other as which possessions in the Villa belong to Them/the Crown/ -- and they go over the lists with the same avid attention any grocer would go over his delivery lists and invoices.  The Court looks small and grasping, petty and avaricious. And, always, deadly dull.

The other character is Charles (now Kingwingy Charles III). Played as he is by Dominic West – as Charlie then as now lacks all charisma, electricity and interest, whilst West can’t help splattering it everywhere just standing around -- this doesn’t work. Can you imagine The Wire's Jimmy McNulty having a temper tantrum over a ... pen?  No, we cannot, but Charlie did. Immediately on being king, even not yet crowned. 

If Charlie was in the least like West’s presentation, none of the messes would have happened in the first place.

So, history's revisionism continues apace, even revisionism of what we've 'always known' because we were there.  Ha!