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A Fox Is A Wolf That Brings Flowers

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white kitsune under white moon

PROFESSION(S): Writer, historian, librarian, professional researcher.

Non-Fiction: - The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry, publication date: October 1, 2015, Chicago Review Press, Lawrence Hill Books;

Novels: The Horsegirl; The Stalking Horse; Stallion Queen


Shorter Fiction of Interest:

Neb Short Story Finalist, "Flower Kiss".

From The Della Stories: The Kingdom By the Lake: "Dark Moon Murmuration", "Made By Hand", "Mrs. Langdon's Diary -OR- They Carry It Too Far"

Editor of the short-listed Philip K. Dick Award original anthology, Not of Woman Born.

OTHER WORKS OF INTEREST:

- Postmamboism: Collected Writings (2011)

- Do Not Fear Death: Music And The Haitian Earthquake, pub date January, 2011

- The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans, pub date August, 2009

- The World That Made New Orleans: Spanish Silver to Congo Square, pub. date January 2008; named the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year; The Gulf Independent Book Sellers Favorite Book of 2009

- Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo, pub date July 2004, winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award; chosen by Rolling Stone as the second best book of music writing for the year, after Bob Dylan's Chronicles: Vol 1

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August 26th, 2015

 Yet another book about Lawrence of Arabia? This isn't one of those, despite the title. It's T.E. Lawrence within the context of a whole cast of characters in the run-up to, during and after World War One, as the scramble for control of the Middle East by the Powers plays out. After the war ends, some of these Powers, such as Austria-Hungary and czarist Russia will no longer exist, and a new one, the U.S., will be firmly established on the scene.


 Lawrence In Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2013) by Scott Anderson is well worth reading.  It isn't biography as much as it is a history of the Ottoman Empire's loosening grip upon Egypt, Arabia and the Middle East generally -- and the Powers that were already racing in the nineteen aughts to control the region's oil resources.

 

 

So, as well as the famous figure of T.E. Lawrence, the reader is introduced to a number of other personages. These other significant figures were from  Germany, Russia, Britain, France, the United States and some of the Jewish migrants from Turkish controlled Rumania and czarist Russia, who were attempting to create what would become Israel after the next Great War. Among them are the French and British Lords Rothschild. All of these people, and the interests they represented, schemed with or against the Ottomans, while Istanbul's young Turks dreamed of updating and reforming the Empire, joining the industrial world.

 

 

 

 

Emir Faisel, championed by Lawrence

In the meantime all these various sides had vicious intra-conflicts as well. "Betrayal and Lies", as Lawrence learned, was the real name of the game, whether nationalist, corporate, military or Zionist. Tragedies in real life make for a great cast of colorful personalities in a book of history.

 

The German Arabist Dr Curt Prüfer  (unlike the other figures, there are no photos of him on the web, it seems) is one of the most interesting of these men (for some reason, with the exception of Sarah Aaronsohn, in this history they are all men, these figures loyally working to control the region for their nation or their employer).  A sickly baby and child, a botched operation produced his whispery voice and frail physique, leaving him wide-open to accusations not usually even barely concealed of homosexuality, despite his wife and numerous liaisons with other women.  Nor was he member of the German aristocracy, so rising beyond a certain point in a diplomatic career (also, read for diplomacy, intelligence). was out of the question. However, like Lawrence, he was born with a facility for languages, picking them up quickly and accurately.  As Arabic is a most difficult language to master, he was a valuable player. He ended his life as a nazi ambassador-spy to Brazil during WWII.

 

 

The American aristocrat in the game was William Yale (yes, a descendant of that Yale), an employee of the Standard Oil Company of New York. He came to the region originally undercover as a wealthy playboy -- which disguise the young Lawrence ferreted out immediately -- to prospect for the same oil that the British coveted,  as they were converting the British navy from coal power to oil. When the U.S. joined the War on the side of Britain he began gathering intelligence for the U.S. Later he became a distinguished history professor.

 

Aaron Aaronsohn and wife.

 

Born in Romania, Aaron Aaronsohn emigrated to Palestine, toured the U.S. as an agricultural scientist, His dream was not only a Jewish state in Palestine, but one that supported itself by agriculture. His initial botanical station at Athlit, on the Palestine coast, was successful -- and plundered by the Ottoman overlord's military under the guise of requisition. He chose to support the British in the region when war came, even before Turkey entered the war. Aaronsohn died in an airplane crash after he attended the 1919 Peace Conference.

 

 

 

Sarah Aaronsohn,sister of botanist Aaron Aaronsohn, referred to as The Heroine of Nili;" the Nili was a Zionist spy ring working for the Brits in Palestine in WWI.

Earlier, his sister and spy collaborator, Sarah, had killed herself, during a brutal Turkish captivity.

 

 

Like Lawrence, all of these men and their associates became vital forces in intelligence for their governments and / or allies, helping determine the decisions and the direction of actions during the war and after.

 

They tended to converge in Cairo. Their descriptions of the thousands of Aussie troops stuck in Cairo after long confinement on ships to get there, waiting transport to Europe, are vivid. The Aussies turned Cairo into a puke-drowned brothel, raping and fighting constantly, dead drunk in the gutters. The British were deeply concerned because, until now, they claimed, the average "arab" had viewed "the white man" as a vastly superior creature.  The Aussies destroyed that image of "the white man" forever.

 

 

 

Scott Anderson is interviewed about his book and Lawrence in this YouTube video.

 

Among the valuable take-aways, i.e., what didn't know before reading the book, for me from Lawrence in Arabia, is the role of the oil industry in wrenching the Palestine and the region from Turkey. It also gives a coherent picture of the Young Turks, their goals and how they went about achieving them, to make Turkey a modern country.

 

The book is lengthy, but it's consistently interesting; though dense with information, it reads easily.

 

August 25th, 2015

"The award-winning novelist discusses the intersection of race, sexual identity, and science fiction. By Cecilia D’Anastasio"

Among the questions D'Anastasio asks is this one:


CD: You have said, “For better or for worse, I am often spoken of as the first African-American science-fiction writer.” What did you mean by that?

Delany has a long and interesting response.  Here's a pull of a single paragraph in this response:

 ". . . . But another set of ghosts are needed to make our own discussion here make sense—ghosts who come from the genre (and I used the word advisedly) we call “the literary.” For an idea of how much literature has changed since I first entered the field as a writer in 1962, or perhaps when, in 1966, I attended my first science-fiction convention in Cleveland, consider first what the academy that gives us our sense of what literature is teaches today—and then consider how that differed from what it taught in 1967. In that year, there were no virtually black studies classes (much less programs or departments); there were no women’s studies classes or programs, and no gay studies or queer studies classes or programs."

After reading that paragraph, I sat and thought about it for a long time. This is called living history, and Delany is very aware of doing so.  Even the universities today aren't what they were when black studies, women's studies, gay studies, etc. were founded. 

Checking out the interview is worthy it just to see the the very fine James Hamilton photo-portrait of Delany that illustrates the interview at the top.

August 24th, 2015

It Took The Stock Market

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It took the Dow falling a 1000 points upon opening this AM to knock Bully Don out of front and center media focus.


August 21st, 2015

With considerable drang if not sturm he went off on the JFK Jet Blue charter to Havana right on time at noon.  We hope he'll be boarded on Tuesday's return flight just as expeditiously and thereby miss whatever effects Hurricane Danny will have on Cuba -- though since earlier this morning it looks as though Danny is losing strength. Which is an excellent thing.


As I don't have friends visiting from Elsewheres during this absence of Himself I am contenting myself with some massive housecleaning and other related projects while el V's away.  Not to mention laundering another basket of sheets and towels -- all this humidity means many more frequent changes of towels and sheets. How humid has it been?  El V's gone through at least 3 t-shirts a day.  May was well be be in Cuba . . . .


He's meeting with the people we're working with for the January and March tours, as well as visiting the venues where the musical events will take place, and meeting with the musicians.

His two primary missions are food and money.

He's ensuring that the tour members will always have lunch and dinner waiting for them, always have a room at night.





He's working through the extraordinarily complicated thing it is for USians to pay for, buy etc. in Cuba.  Because we can't use U.S. cash, nor U.S. banking cards or credit cards. U.S. dollars must be changed to the Cuban convertible peso, which is called the CUC$. This means immediately at the rate of official exchange, which must be employed with as much money as we're bringing in for such a government sanctioned tour, we lose immediately at least 10% of the value, because on top of the exchange rate, Cuba charges a 10% tax right off the top.  This drop isn't anywhere near as great with Canadian currency. So, among the things el V did yesterday, was take the sum he planned to spend these next few days to I forget the name of the bank, and change that into Canadian money.  One cannot do a transaction here in the U.S. of changing U.S. money into CUC$ as the CUC$ has no value anywhere outside of Cuba.

See, I said this is complicated, and which is why so many people in the U.S. who want to visit Cuba really prefer to do it by a tour, which manages all these matters.

August 20th, 2015

Cli-Fi - Climate Change SF

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I'm not entirely convinced the author of "Climate change is so dire we need a new kind of science fiction to make sense of it" has stated the entire picture of what we need to change, slow and stop climate change's inevitable consequences, which will be dire for all of us, or at least anyone not of the 0.01%.

 

Changing a subset of science fiction classifications to Cli-Fi in which protagonists deal with the near future consequence of die-off due to lack of water and oxygen seems like expecting effective political and social changes happens by "tweets 'n likes". Nor may we have the luxury of thinking about how this will affect our distant descendants generations from now, because the impacts for so many are already here.  Even in places that aren't drought-tortured regions of Africa with booming birth rates nevertheless, how many 100-200-500 year disasters within a year or a decade can a nation handle effectively? (Or, perhaps, the author could have had more to say and propose, but due to space, the editor didn't allow that part?)

 

 

We need much more than a new name for fiction in order to explore, create and implement any effective change of route upon this headlong trajectory to self-destruction it seems we're on. Just think of how to rid ourselves of the oil dependency that is embedded and entwined in everything in all our lives, from our shampoos and moisturizers, our transportation, our cosmetics, our agri-biz, our communications -- everything.  It's like slavery -- it took a long and bloody war to burn that down, and in the end, due to federal indifference, the laws were no longer enforced other than there no longer was overt buying and selling, and ownership of babies, and calculating wealth and taxes via the bodies of human beings.* 

What will it take to rid ourselves of unsustainable extraction industries, including the wholesale destruction of the rain forests that provide our oxygen, and many, many ways, our water?  What will it take to stop the wholesale destruction of our oceans and the life they used to support?

Writing and thinking are essential. But don't we need more, including collective action that happens simultaneously with convincing people there is dire need for change?

-----------------------------

*  That aspect of slavery was finished for good -- we hope! but then, there's this sort of thing by rightrightrightwinter talk show Jan Mickleson's frighteningly reminiscent of secessionist fire eater sublime, George Fitzhugh's Cannibals All! Or Slaves Without Masters, in which he proposes that anyone, whatever color, who isn't a wealthy white man, was a candidate for being enslaved. 

As to how easily and quickly what is enacted law, decided law, can be changed, by various means, think of  how impossible it is for women to get abortions even where abortion is legal in federal law as in the U.S. -- and even contraception -- even to save the life of the mother who is carrying a dead fetus.

When de facto abolition of abortion has happened here, why can't de facto slavery?  The Constitution has a built in loophole for slavery, i.e. criminals. Which is why our industrial prison complex is so lucrative.


 

 
This is what Mickleson is proposing with his outline that Iowa arrest undocumented people, imprison, put to work.  The precedent is the work gangs on the Jim Crow plantations.  Any time a nabob in the south needed a workforce the local sheriff rounded up any black man he could find, on the flimsiest of excuses, he getting paid a set amount for each "prisoner" he brought to the buyer.

August 19th, 2015

 From the publicist for The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry by Ned Sublette and Constance Sublette:

 

I wanted to make you aware of a giveaway that Chicago Review Press has set up on GoodReads for The American Slave Coast.
We are offering 10 copies and the giveaway is running Aug 5 through September 15. 
If you would like to share information about the giveaway, here is the link to the giveaway: 
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/150152-the-american-slave-coast-a-history-of-the-slave-breeding-industry



 

Elizabeth And Her German Garden was first published in 1898.  It was Elizabeth Von Arnim's (1866-1941) first book, but like the husband she had when making this garden, it was as far from being her only book as the "Man of Wrath," as he's referred to in the book, would be her only husband.


 

Elizabeth and Her German Garden was published anonymously.

Knowing only this factoid about the author the reader will know she's in for something unusual and quirky -- even satirical.  Satirical indeed is Elizabeth And Her German Garden, in the mode as other books, arch in tone and complacently upper class, as Max Beerbohm's

Zuleika Dobson (1911), Stella Gibbons's literary parody, Cold Comfort Farm (1932) and Nancy Mitford's comedies of manners.





Elizabeth And Her German Garden was immensely popular, either in spite of or because it addressed so many of the matters the early first wave feminists discussed, but did so within a frame of gardening -- a typical, acceptable female occupation in England -- as a radical female act in Prussian Germany, going against appropriate class and gender avocation.




As were many of these early, outspoken female radicals Elizabeth was an aristocrat.  For that matter she was an aristo times two. Mary Annette Beauchamp was born into a wealthy English family while they were living their Australian holiday home. She married first the German Count Henning August von Arnim-Schlagenthin. As might be suspected from the author referring to him as the Man of Wrath, this marriage wasn't particularly successful, despite five children, among whose tutors were E.M. Forster and Hugh Walpole.  By good fortune, Arnim-Schlagenthin died in 1910, leaving her free to marry John Francis Stanley Russell, 2nd Earl Russell, elder brother of Bertrand Russell. This marriage was also unsuccessful. She left him, but as they never divorced she had affairs -- she was one of H.G. Wells's mistresses --  rather than husbands. She lived many places during the course of her colorful life. Having fled the bombs and war, she died of wartime influenza in Charleston, South Carolina. She was cremated in Maryland; her ashes were brought back to England in 1947.


From wiki:


Arnim's husband had increasing debts and was eventually sent to prison for fraud. This was when she created her pen name "Elizabeth" and launched her career as a writer by publishing her semi-autobiographical, brooding, yet satirical Elizabeth and her German Garden (1898). Detailing her struggles both to create a garden on the estate and her attempts to integrate into German high-class Junker society, it was such a success that it was reprinted twenty times in its first year.[7] A bitter-sweet memoir and companion to it was The Solitary Summer (1899). Other works, such as the The Benefactress(1902), Vera (1921) and Love (1925), were also semi-autobiographical. Other titles dealing with protest against domineering Junkerdom and witty observations of life in provincial Germany were to follow, including The Princess Priscilla's Fortnight (1905) and Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther(1907). She would sign her twenty or so books, after the first, initially as "by the author of Elizabeth and Her German Garden" and later simply "By Elizabeth".

Although she never wrote a traditional autobiography, 'All the Dogs of My Life', her 1936 account of her love for her pets, contains many glimpses of the glittering social circle of which she was part.

I enjoyed listening to Elizabeth And Her German Garden very much. However, her attitude to the "underclasses" is disturbing,. The narrator always refers to them as a matter of course as animals and children -- while in that typical feminist manner of the privileged class, she takes enormous umbrage at the males of the ruling class to which she belongs, who refer to her and women in general as "animals, children and idiots." In Germany the classification of those who are not allowed to attend political meetings, vote or own property were "animals, children and idiots." 




She rather likes hat in Germany, where she is making a garden on her husband's Nassenheide, Pomerania estate with migrant labor, that masters and mistresses may by law employ corporal punishment upon their barely paid employees -- many of whom in Prussia come from Russia and Poland.

In her favor, the narrator of Elizabeth And Her German Garden does feel keenly that the women among these laborers are unfairly treated and argues with the Man of Wrath about it. These women are beaten as a matter of course by their husbands, paid less than the men for doing the same work, perform yet more work in their family, and as well, do it while pregnant, and immediately after giving birth. The Man of Wrath complacently informs her that is why women are inferior beings, because they are weaker than men and can be beaten, because they get pregnant and have to take care of babies.

Perhaps more than any other impression this reader-listener has taken away from Elizabeth And Her German Garden is how much again things in the so-called enlightened nations have returned in terms of wealth, class and labor and gender, particularly for migrant labor, to what they were before World War I. 

Many of her works, including Enchanted April, have been adapted for the stage and films. Virago has reprinted them.

Wiki further informs that many of her works are available online:

Works by Elizabeth Von Arnim at Project GutenbergWorks by or about Elizabeth von Arnim at Internet ArchiveWorks by or about Mary Annette Beauchamp at Internet ArchiveWorks by Elizabeth von Arnim at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks) 


August 18th, 2015

We were just given a gig in Charlottesville's bookstore.  This is Thomas Jefferson's market town and home of his university.  Hope we get out of there without being lynched!  Boy, is October and November busy.

Vanderbilt and some others are going to have to be late winter, early spring 2016. Winter travel is just too iffy these days of climate change.



Charlottesville, home to the most fast food franchises in the U.S.




First -- providing url not hyper link since the Washington Post is behind a paywall, allowing an individual non-subscriber to view only 5 stories per month, a limit that an individual who has no investment in presenting books might not want to use.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/08/18/do-book-tours-sell-books-maybe-not-but-that-shouldnt-stop-you-having-a-good-time/?hpid=z12




The author of this WaPo piece, stuffed with good advice, is a novelist; she focuses 100% on those who write fiction.  But it seems to me that the advice she provides is equally useful to non-fiction writers, even those of us who, unlike most fiction writers, have many if not most of our venues, not in bookstores but in academic settings or other venues that are connected with history and other non-fiction presentation occasions.

I particularly resonated with this bit of advice, presented right at the top, which surely wasn't by accident (yes, I have suffered through uncounted horrible readings):
 
1. Don’t read aloud from your book.
 
It may be called a book reading, but people do not want to spend an evening listening to you stumble through prose they’re perfectly capable of reading for themselves. Instead, tell the story of how you found your agent. (Everyone secretly wants an agent.) Tell the funniest story you heard this week, book-related or no. If you absolutely must read, pick a provocative bit.

By coincidence, last night, having a late dinner and drinks with the Penn State African American Studies person who is bringing us there in October, we discussed how instead of providing the traditional reading, followed with Q&A, recruiting some students out of the African American Studies program and the Feminist and Gender program (our sponsor at Penn State has tracks in both programs) to read in their own voices a coherently structured set of selections from the books, with some music, and so on.  We'd provide an introduction and then we would have discussion afterwards.



August 17th, 2015

Among the growing number of Fall dates to Do Stuff with The American Slave Coast, The Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Hartford, Connecticut is bringing us up in November. The very idea of presenting content from The American Slave Coast in Harriet Beecher Stowe's house just knox my sox!  

I know, I know, she didn't write Uncle Tom's Cabin there; she wrote it partially while living in Brunswick, ME and partially in Andover, MA from June 1851 through April 1852. Her husband was teaching at schools in both places. However, that she wrote the book enabled them to buy this house, one presumes. Even so the dream mansion she built originally in CT was too expensive to maintain, so she got this house. Plus there was the house in Florida where they wintered until her husband's health got too bad to travel -- if I'm recalling correctly.




Nevertheless, this feels like a great honor.

More about the Center here.

The House.

In a little while we're meeting up with the professor from the African Studies dept. at Penn State who is bringing us there in October, I think.

Tomorrow el V's in the studio all day recording the Arthur Russell tunes they played last week in England and Scandinavia.  Meetings all week about Stuff To Do with both The American Slave Coast and with Cuba.  Friday he leaves for a quickie to Cuba to do face-to-face with the people running the venues and so on for the January and March Cuba tours.

Books will be available by the middle of next month.

In the meantime it is HOT, and we've had this summer's first reported case of West Nile.  Hopefully the heat and sudden lack of rain means the mosquitoes breeding grounds have dried up.

August 14th, 2015

From Finland

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Himself writes: 

i got sunburned today! 

but so what. i saw the baltic (or at least the gulf of finland) for the first time. which is kind of an estuary, shallow and brackish, but nevertheless an impressive sight. 60 km from here (if i had another day i'd go there) is tallinn, estonia, an old hanseatic town. the hanseatic league! does your little heart beat faster? got a couple more prezzies for you, perhaps to assuage my guilty conscience for being here without you, who should be here with me. 

off to sound check shortly . . .

To which my response is, "O goddessa! The Baltic and the Hansa! Oooo Oooo Oooo! My Jealousy! Jealousy! Jealousy!"


August 13th, 2015

For Spiral Sheep

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A photo, circa 1890, of Pyrrhus Concer, an African-American born to an enslaved mother in 1814 who later became a whaler and is believed to be one of the first Americans of African descent to set foot in Japan. Credit Collection of the Southampton Historical Museum.

 

What's particularly significant for me about this man is that he's a New Yorker.  Often slavery and the slave industries of New York City region and the state go unacknowledged.  They continued apace even after the U.,S. Civil War to end slavery as an institution.  The captives were not brought here of course, but to Cuba and Brasil in enormous numbers.  It was extraordinarily lucrative, though entirely illegal by federal law.

Norway, Music & Lee Jeans

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From Norway:

Part 1

good morning.  slept till noon.  storing it up, since tomorrow we have a 5:30 a.m. lobby call. 

i may not be able to communicate much for the rest of today, not really sure what's ahead.  it's  2 p.m. now, we don't play until tonight.  the meteor showers are said to be highly visible here, but i haven't seen them.  

this place is utterly beautiful.  or at least it was until they built this resort.  a placid lake or maybe estuary.  last night it was the quietest of anyplace i've been in years.  no ambient sound.  no motors, even.  

i'm sitting across the table from rhys, who is eating the same crevettes-and-mayonnaise sandwich we had last night. 

the prices rival angola.  norway is highly protectionist, is not on the euro, and is awash in oil money.  the swedish bartender says he and his wife go across the border into sweden to buy their groceries because they're half price, but he works in norway because the pay is so much better.  

Part 2

okay, we've moved to a hotel in downtown oslo.  i have about an hour to look at the town before we go to the festival site.  

we are playing the oya festival, accent on the last syllable.  so naturally i expected storms.  but no, it's a bootiful day.  apparently at the festival they have a very nice backstage -- vegan spreads, massages, even -- i don't quite get this -- free lee jeans, i'm told!  

i have purchased a european electrical adaptor. 

the bill for the sandwich and two beers last night -- 337 kroners, $42.

i will be home in a little more than 48 hours.  by then you'll have partied at the lone star music reunion, partied in cocotte's new restaurant and gone on a cruise around manhattan. things are moving so fast now.

looks like the havana jazz festival trip in december with pres. hall is going to happen. 

i have been invited, with a $350 honorarium, to participate in a cuba/angola conference at nyu in november.  

have a great day, my dear . . . 

August 12th, 2015

E-mail From Norway

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Here it is soft and humid, a little windy.  No moon, a perfect night for Perseid meteor shower viewing. It's different where he is:

 
it's almost 1 a.m.  we've been traveling for a long time, the details of which need not concern us here. 

we're out in the middle of nowhere.  but it's a beautiful spa/resort on a marina.  i have a small suite to myself.  incredibly clean cold air.  a little fog.  people sitting outside wrapped in blankets and talking.  blond furniture, sun deck.  we're eating sandwiches of little bitty shwimps and mayonnaise and drinking good norwegian beer.  tomorrow will spend most of the day at a 5-stage festival with 14-15,000 people in attendance.
 
 

 Being alone for the first part of the week, as well as recovering from the surgery, there has been time for books.

 

I've been alternating among three books.

 

 

The English jacket art is prettier.

 

 

The novel is Flood of Fire (2015), the final volume of Amitav Ghosh's wonderful historical fiction Ibis Trilogy centered on the 19th century opium trade and the opium wars, featuring a vast and diverse cast of interesting characters from the UK, India and China -- with a few Americans.  Among the reading pleasures of this trilogy is that recurring characters from one volume to another, move in a novel manner from supporting roles to primary ones, and vice versa, which allows for fresh takes on shared experiences. One of the Americans, Zachery Reid, is this time a primary character, a skilled seaman, from Baltimore's internationally famed shipyards, where he learned his shipbuilding and woodworking skills. He also happens to be so lightskinned that away from his birthland, he is classified as white.

 

 

 

 

 

The biography is the Thatcherite, Andrew Roberts 's Napoleon: A Life  -- (2014) -- the English publication is titled Napoleon the Great.

 

 

 

The history is the Blackstone audible edition of Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius At the Heart of the Moghul  Empire (2007) -- the U.S. edition of this work also has a different title, Taj Mahal: A Love Affair At the Heart of the Moghul Empire by Diana and Daniel Preston. Neither of these titles accurately reflects the matters that are the book's primary focus, which is the history of the Timur family descended from Tamerlane that established the Moghuls' Indian empire, and their heartless internecine battles to own the empire. However, those stories cannot and are not told by the Prestons without including love stories, particularly that of Shāhjahān's stepmother, the powerful Nur, who ruled his father, Jahāngīr, and who wished to rule the empire as well, and Shāhjahān's love for his wife, Nur's niece, Arjūmand Bānū Begum.  This is the story of the Red Fort, Persia and Afghanistan even more than that of the Taj Mahal. With those materials how can it be less than fascinating, and fascinating it is.  Among the things this book has taught me so far is that Charles the Second received Mumbai as part of his marriage settlement for marrying the Portuguese princess, Catherine de Branganza.

 

An additional interest for me is that the book is co-written by a husband and wife.

 

Talk about the vast reach and interconnections of the British Empire.  The British Empire central in all these books, in Europe and Asia. That Thatcherite, Andrew Roberts, is in favor of empires, is a given . . . .

 

Colonel Ty Seidule, Head of the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point speaks in a video-lecture that goes, ahem, right to the point of slavery and the U.S. Civil War. He concludes by pronouncing how proud he is of belonging to the Army of the United States, that fought to end slavery, and included then over 200,000 former slaves, now soldiers in the U.S. Army. 

 

Prager University has made Colonel Seidule's video available here.

 

 

August 11th, 2015

From el V's morning e-mail:

hi!  we're relaxing before sound check in liverpool.  a nice, sunny afternoon following a cloudy morning.  

having some trouble with my wi-fi adapter, but thankfully there's ethernet in this room, which works fine.  

a picturesque part of liverpool.  old brick buildings.  not that i've seen very much of it. playing in a club tonight, the kazimier, which was surely here when the beatles were playing in the cavern.  sticky wooden floors and that ancient pub smell.  

all good. e got his bass back today (played on a rented one last night) after p in frustration tweeted about icelandair losing it.  he was contacted by icelandair within 15 minutes of the tweet.  

p.s.  i learned a new word today: shitegeist.
 

That bass that the airline lost is 1958 Fender Precision Bass -- a mo$t valuable in$trument now.  Then there's the value add that E's had that bass since he was a kid, even before playing in The Modern Lovers, Talking Heads etc. (some of the punk rock bands that along with Patti Smith, the Romones and others made CBGB's legendary, in case some people don't know these things, being too young to have lived through them).



Arthur Russell was one of downtown NYC's AIDS victims.

These groups collaborated at times with Arthur Russell, whose music el V and compadres have been invited by these venues to play. Those were golden times of cross-over in all the arts and all their genres in downtown NYC.

August 9th, 2015

Huh. This doesn't look like Merryl Streep.

 

I have on hand Napoleon: A Life (English publication title, Napoleon The Great) by Andrew Roberts (2014).

This isn't the first biography or study of Napoleon I've taken on by any means.  But it is the first one to be published since the massive publication of all of Napoleon's correspondence; the past editions left out a third of the letters for various political or axe-grinding reasons. It is also the first work on Napoleon written by a self-proclaimed Thatcherite.  On his wiki and other sites, Robert refrains from mentioning any other reason for his conversion to Thatcherism other than he agreed that the UK had no reason to join the European Union and / or change it's own currency.  From early in his adult life he has always been deeply embedded in the UK's upper echelons of the business and financial communities -- he's currently married to the CEO of "the Brunswick Group LLP and a Governor of the South Bank Centre." 

Roberts is a prolific and most successful historian - journalist.  For all his publications and many honors and dignities received, including several BBC programs made from his books go his wiki here.  

There's a lot here to make me skeptical about his work.  On the other hand, he has a deep and authentic knowledge about the man and the era via his previous works, all of which are mostly well received.

As far as this bio of Napoleon, the reviews are mixed.  Several have mentioned that Roberts has allowed his hero-worship of the man spoil his interpretation and perceptions.  For my own most important concerns around Napoleon, which is slavery, the slave trace, the Saint-Domingue slave uprising, Toussaint, the Caribbean wars with Britain, the sale of the Louisiana Territory, and the earlier accompanying matters of the Revolution's and Directory's relationships with and treatment of the very young United States -- there's hardly anything. This isn't unusual in studies of Napoleon, particularly those by British writers.  They got their own ass kicking in Saint-Domingue and don't like thinking about that much.  They also overplayed their hand with the U.S. in this era, which led to the War of 1812, which wasn't good for Britain in the end.  And most of all the Brit historians lurve Rear-Admiral Nelson, Trafalgar, the Peninsular War and Waterloo. So there ya go -- no Saint-Domingue or Louisiana or the U.S.

But this sort of thing reminds us how basic it is to research to read only a single work by a single writer, and that we need to read many works by many writers from different political and social perspectives -- and from different eras.

I don't think there's need to question Roberts on the facts of the matters -- it's all about the spins he gives them.  So I like to compare and contrast.

I do respect and profoundly admire what Roberts has accomplished in his life's works.  There are thousands and thousands of works on Napoleon alone, many published even when he was alive -- and he's read enormous numbers of them. His french must be perfection, which I envy!  I also envy him his resources: he's personally visited, in company of experts, over 50 of the 63 battle grounds where Napoleon personally commanded.

August 7th, 2015

Playing Arthur Russell

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El V leaves here tomorrow evening with a passel of really good musicians, to play Arthur Russell music, directed by Peter Gordon, over there in England and Scandinavia.

Here's the itinerary:

 
August 10th, Visions Festival. 
Venue: Oval Space, 29-32 The Oval, London E2 9DT, UK. Doors 19:30.

August 11th. 

Travel: Train from London Euston to Liverpool Lime St. 1121 - 1321.

Venue: Kazimier, 4-5 Wolstenholme Sq. Liverpool L1 4JJ, UK. Doors 19:00

August 12th -- Day Off. Flight from Manchester To Oslo. 2005 - 2305.

August 13th
Venue: Oya Festivalen, Toyenparken, Oslo, Norway.

August 14th. 

Travel: Flight from Oslo to Helsinki. 0910 - 1135.

Flow Festival, Parrukatu, 00540 Helsinki, Finland.

Myself, I will be here, continuing to recover from the bone graft and extraction, and hanging out with Austin amiga, who will be here on Tuesday, to play the Lone Star Reunion at B.B. King's, with her family band, Greezy Wheels.The person who did this violence to my person was so good my recovery is swift. I may even be able to have a beer or two again by next Thursday night.  At the moment taking pain killers -- which I am already needing less and less -- and antibiotics -- for another 2 days only -- so NO ALCOHOL, a rule I observe with great rigor. No cheating on this allowed.

I'm so envious that el V gets to go back to Liverpool -- and that's when they have a free day.  If anyone absolutely must have a free day it's him.  He's been killing himself as usual, this time to finish the catalog for the Latin Jazz exhibit at the Harlem Jazz Museum.  He just works and works and works.  I'm not good for much -- except! I did find his gig gear bag, with all the pedals, wah wahs, etc. for his Strat and SJ!  And tomorrow I'm buying him some new clothes before he leaves, whether he likes it or not.

August 5th, 2015

The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects (2015) W.W. Norton

 

English professor Deborah Lutz applies contextual historical material culture to illuminate the lives and works of the Brontës via, as the title so speaks, nine material objects that have survived since their deaths.

 

The chapter titled "Death Made Material" centers the amethyst bracelet that features on the book's jacket, worn by Charlotte, made from "the entwined hair of Emily and Anne."  The bracelet was made most probably by a professional "hairworker," a profession that employed thousands in 1830's and 40's Britain.

 

Mourning jewelry as part of the grieving process was only part of what hairworkers provided, but objects incorporating a beloved dead person's hair was the largest part of the profession.

 

Manuals for how people could and prepare the hair in their own homes and incorporate it into other objects, such as keepsake portraits of the dearly departed, drawn landscapes and tableaus incorporating graveyards and other melancholy signatures were available and popular.

 

 

 

As would be the case with this sad though very talented family, much of The Brontë Cabinet deals with illness, death, grief and mourning. However it also retrieves the economic and social constructs around the matters of women who write professionally, household pets and genteel women's letter writing -- which latter brings us to the development and history of mail, the penny post, Valentines and other matters.

 

The author, not needing to, doesn't mention that as much as hairworkers, letter writing and the post office are dead letters now.  That, though not expressed, says more about how distant in time now the Brontës are, than anything else.  Yet their work endures, and we remain as fascinated by anything that had physical contact with this family as the celebrity seekers in their own time, As the author does point out this determination to own something of figures that impact their fans is as old as saints' relics and this is anything but a dead matter.

 

Often, as with many Brontë collections the relics need not even be authentic. What matters is what the possessor believes s/he possesses.

 

And now, alas, off to the dentist for a most unpleasant surgical experience. Thank goodness this is NOT the 1840's.

 

August 4th, 2015

 Watching Sense8 has been such a slog that days, weeks, and now, over a month has gone by since watching an episode.  I don't recall which episode I viewed last but then netflix does that for me. :)

 

Part of the problem for this viewer is it looks like the sort of video loops that play at a rave, or a Burning Man event. The series is not located in the kind of world most people inhabit, but a pick-and-choose-your-own-adventure global picture post card world, with neither cause nor effect as to what shows up, other than it looks pretty and / or exotic. 

 

It broadcasts the world-view of those for whom it seems climate change, loss of human work, etc. are never considered because they exist at the levels where they aren't affected by it. That little is left of the natural world doesn't much matter for these are the sorts that are most comfortable existing in an entirely constructed artificial space where the sensory comes through jacks and shunts of one sort or another directly to the brain, not through the senses of hands, eyes and ears, but highly elegant or gory simulacrum of experience:  games, television, graphic novels, fashion and so on. These are the sorts that populate William Gibson's novels, who are thoroughly at home in this post-natural world of pixels and constant, complete connection.  So are Sense8's creators and writers, the Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski.

 

 

Lately I've been thinking of Sense8 in this aspect of sensory and other experience, along with Ex Machina. The the local shops' windows are already becoming inhabited with a fantasy of autumn fashion (despite we have cooling shelters and so on practicing right now due to the heat, pollution and humidity).

 

More than  few of these windows are centering the new mannequins, fashioned after the unclothed, unfleshed AI constructs of Ex Machina.  Some of the windows have even left out the clothes the stores supposed are selling, leaving the space empty other than an artistically arranged collection of cyber limbs and a naked torso that reveals the inner working of the technology.

 

Fashion, like this almost present world of AIs, the internet of things and Sense8, is a world of infinite possibilities, a series of masques on the walls of an infinite series of halls.  Or, as the NY Times reported this weekend "Fashion Finds a More Perfect Model: The Robot." The title of the slide show is, "So Much Like Humans, Only Better."

 

However, cranky moi has never found a single the DJ music experience even remotely the splendid, transcendent, transformational experiences she's had from living, human musicians playing together. One uses what others make, and the musicians make it. With human musicians even the gods come down to dance with us.

 

This is essential to humans, but not to AI's or robots or androids.
 

 

 

August 3rd, 2015

 Along with finishing watching the 6th and final season of White Collar (2014) last week, I finished watching the second, and also final, season of The Witches of East End (2014). 

 

This second season took too much time to get cooking, with a confusing detour to somewhere called Santo Domingo (the capital of the Dominican Republic?), where some bogusity called Santería is practiced by a latina witch, which is as perverted and phony as the Santería found back in some vicinity of the nowherelandia that is the series's East End -- mama witch Joanna kept a concealing spell around East End for a long time, which may explain why we are without a geographic clue.  So it's not surprising the series lost viewer numbers, which got it cancelled -- cancelled with numerous cliffhangers of all kinds too.*


Aunt Wendy, Freya, Joanna, Ingrid.
 


This series is a cobbly-gook of everything from Buffy to Vamp Diaries.  Yet, due to the focus on the older witches being sisters with different curses there is an intrinsic interest here -- and the people are very pretty.  So it does work to at least a degree.  Especially when it's been as hot and humid as these last weeks have been!

 

 

 

 

However, during the second third of this cancelled series' second season, James Marsters appears.  He's a supernatural Bad Guy second banana to the Head Bad Guy, the "King of Asgard." Make of Asgard what you will; Asgard is not the least of the preposterosities of this charming show populated by very pretty actors. How not charming? with  Joanna, the central witch played by Julia Ormond, with Mädchen Amick playing her sister witch, Wendy.

 

For Marsters's Tarkoff in East End, no bleached hair, definitely older, still possessed of all of Spike's menace, particularly the signature clenching of the jaw muscles under the signature Spike Cheekbones. In Witches, he sings; also wears a skinny tie.

 

--------------------------

 

* Why does it seem impossible for we white, North American writers, whether of novels, television or the movies, to get the Afro-latin religions and African religions right?  Particularly those practiced in the Caribbean? Not to mention forever blathering about the Underground Railroad in the deep south?  "Underground Railroad" was a term not in use until after Justice Taney's disgraceful, criminal ruling of Dred Scott and the 1850 passage of the draconian Fugitive Slave Act. What was called the Underground Railroad operated, principally, for obvious geographic reasons. The southern antebellum slave society by then was a vast, lockdown prison for people of color -- there were no more places to run, thus no slave uprisings any longer, until John Brown. The "underground railroad ran out of the border states to the free states and from there up into Canada, as no one was secure in freedom in the northern states by then thanks to the Fugitive Slave laws and the Dred Scott ruling. Far more recovered and kidnapped free citizens of color were kidnapped out of the north to be returned and sold into slavery in the south than ever got to the north. See Eric Foner, among others for what was and was not the underground railroad.  

 

Or, the travesties in BH's Crimson Angel, with the Ekpe / Abakuá Leopard Society shoved into Haiti . . . in the 1830's yet! when these people from the Cross River region only began to be brought to the Caribbean just before the San Domingue slave uprising began, ending the the trade there -- where it is not now and never was at all.

 

See amigo Ivar Miller's great 2009 study, Voice of the Leopard, or Ned Sublette's Cuba and It's Music, and most certainly the founding father of all these studies, Robert Farris Thompson's, Flash of the Spirit).

 

 In the new world the Leopard Society, associated with the practitioners of Abakuá (which doesn't exclude them from practicing other religions as well; syncretization and ecumenicism is all in the Afro Latin world) is found here only in Cuba, and there only in Matanzas, it's stronghold, and parts of Havana. They controlled the docks in Matanzas and Havana. Serious thugs, they were feared in the streets of Havana for a very long time. Their reputation isn't respectable to this day. They are the rumberos who play the rumbas -- and that isn't the ballroom dance competition rhumba, not at all, but something else, very different.

August 2nd, 2015

 This is what we did today.

Prior to the performances, el V moderated a panel for over an hour and half, speaking of the original Chico Science show at Central Park's Summer Stage 20 years ago, which he was instrumental in making happen.  In the meantime Chico himself tragically died, but the band has continued to be a highly valued working group both in Brasil and abroad.  Today was the celebration of that great big Brasilian show 20 years ago that launched the group and their music on the international stage.  Among el V's favorite memories of that entirely memorable day was bringing Chico to Gilberto Gil and introducing them to each other.

A beautiful summer Sunday in NYC.  Low humidity, 93 degrees as a high, many, many, many old friends from all over the world -- so many of whom were here that Sunday 20 years ago.

We got to spend a lot of it under shade -- not in the VIP section but the level above VIP, the producer's tent, which was air conditioned and had its own lavatories.

Caipirinhas were flowing but neither of us can stand cachaça so we stayed away from that.  (Do not know what that other ingredient is that makes cachaça taste like kerosene; we both are all too well able to more than tolerate other forms of aguardente, which is to rum as grappa is to Italian wine, but we hate this stuff -- and, it is wicked -- in not a good way, which we've both learned back in those days 20 years ago in Brasil and Brasilian NYC.)

There were also . . . Mardi Gras Indians in this concert due to this.  Since el V knows all these people, including the producer, and over the years has done a great deal to bring them together . . . all the dots are being connected. (It looks as though the producer is planning to bring a large show like this to Angola, and she wants us to be part of it very much.)

We're knackered, it's truthful to say. Though we spent as much time out of the sun as possible, both wearing large Colombian straw hats, we got a lot of it, naturally since we were on site from noon until after 5.  It was still rockin' when we left.  We crashed at the Bistro and had dinner. This is going to be one of my very last meals of real food for a while, as I have dental surgery on Wednesday.  And el V leaves for Europe on Saturday for the festival gigs he's playing (including London and Liverpool).So this was our traditional goodbye dinner as we do always before he leaves on a trip without me.


August 1st, 2015

White Collar Au Revoir 2

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 I enjoyed the White Collar series so much.  The enjoyment was due to Neal Cafferty's friends. Each episode was like going to the perfect party. The finale was so good that I'm still enjoying it in retrospect.

 

 

.

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you, cast, writers and showrunners for providing six seasons of intelligent, adult, charming entertainment, and not least, the pitch perfect finale.

 

July 31st, 2015

There is no more White Collar that oddly mated Valentine to NYC, the elegant caper con man and -- the FBI.



I shed tears.  You were special, and now, where o where are thou?



You had the loveliest friends, because of whom you were not alone. 



The final, 6th season, was a truncated one, 6 episodes in all.  All involved knew the series had run its course, so the emphasis was on the caper of capers, concluding its run as elegantly as it began.


Neal -- you lived up to everyone's expectations. 


Neal Cafferty though.  You were charm coupled with elegance and intelligence the way only a caper crook can be.


At least there's that very different NYC crime show, Elementary, which covers so much more ground than plutocratic Manhattan, though there's no dearth of plutocrats, yet is as dependably entertaining and clever as White Collar ever was. The wit is different; it includes a social commentary which manages to speak truth to power, such as banks and other foolishnesses with which we fool ourselves as to who we are.

 

July 30th, 2015

Vidal vs. Buckley

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Due to my interest in Gore Vidal, the historical fiction author of what has been called Narratives of Empire, I am interested in this film, Best of Enemies, as well. 


Vidal did know his history, and particularly he understood how history could be and often, even usually, deliberately re-written,  facts left out, selectively cited, revised, manipulated to tell the story the historian wished to tell -- rather than the real story, so to speak.


He did it himself  in his Narratives of Empire, partly as style and reflection of the eras the novels re-created, while always reminding the reader that fiction cannot be trusted.  (I've never quite forgiven him for his mendacious portrait of President Grant in1876: A Novel (1976) -- here we see a bit too much of Henry Adams's influence on Vidal.) The Narratives are an ongoing lesson in both writing history and historical fiction for me, to read, listen to, watch Vidal's process and objective in creating his picture of the U.S. throughout his life, in everything he did, including running for office.  He was among the more interesting and valuable Americans the U.S. has produced.

Press Release for Robert Gordon's Best of Enemies follows: 

 
My latest documentary, “Best of Enemies”—about the debates and feud between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal—opens in NY, LA, Toronto and Vancouver this Friday 7/31.  I made the film with Morgan Neville, and Magnolia Pictures is rolling it out around the country in August. 
 
Opening weekend is very important to an arthouse film and we’d love for you to come out this weekend to attend. Tell your friends too. Tweet, post, tattoo! A good opening weekend means a wider reach to follow.
 
Best of Enemies has received almost universally positive reviews—from across the political spectrum. The film does not take sides in the argument, but makes us consider how we argue. Both Buckley and Vidal were tremendous wits, so the film is very funny. Until it’s not.
 
Below are links to the trailer, to some reviews, and to theaters we’ll be expanding to over the next couple months (the list can increase or diminish, based on opening weekend (it’s a crazy way to do business; we’re hoping it doesn’t rain this weekend in NY)).
 
Sharing information anytime is great, but especially Thursday July 30 and Friday July 31, if you could post or email to remind people it’s opening Friday July 31, we’d be very appreciative.
 
Here is the trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzgfQvB2dvA
 
Here’s theater info:
http://www.magpictures.com/dates.aspx?id=b44b50c6-f55c-47c2-8682-b63d19fc6ebd
 
Here are the websites:
http://bit.ly/BestofEnemiesSite
http://www.bestofenemiesfilm.com/ 
 
A review from the Hollywood Reporter:
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/best-enemies-sundance-review-767855
 
Coverage from the New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/26/movies/buckley-vs-vidal-when-debate-became-bloodsport.html?_r=0
 
Coverage from the Wall Street Journal:
 
In New York, we are opening at IFC downtown and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas uptown.
In Los Angeles, we are at the Landmark 12.
In Toronto, we are at the TIFF Lightbox.
In Vancouver, we are at Fifth Ave. Cinemas.
 
Some of the nice things people are saying:
"Outstanding. There could scarcely be any documentary more enticing, scintillating and downright fascinating.”  -  The Hollywood Reporter
“A delicious spectacle” - Newsweek
 “Witty, nasty and laugh-out-loud hilarious” - Movie Nation
Juicy and thrilling” - The Guardian
“Superbly entertaining.”  - New York Magazine
"Thoroughly engrossing.” - Joe Leydon, Variety
 
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/bestofenemiesfilm
Twitter - @VidalBuckleyDoc
#BestofEnemies
 
Thank you, thank you very much!
 
Robert Gordon
 
www.TheRobertGordon.com
 
 
 

July 29th, 2015

The Crimson Angel (2014, Severn Press; Sutton, Surry, England) is no. 13 in Hambly's series featuring Benjamin January, 1830's New Orleans free man of color, doctor-musician-reluctant detective. 

There are few mystery series of which I am as fond as Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January novels. Partly this is because I know extensively, personally, New Orleans, past and present. Partly it's because Ms. Hambly incorporates so gracefully her extensive and still increasing knowledge of this era of New Orleans history, particularly that of the peculiar circumstances of racial rules and regulations, and how, in this city, founded by the French, turned into a successful port by the Spanish, then sold to the Americans by Napoleon (part of the reason Spain goes to war with France), such racial boundaries are complex, fluid, slavery is so cruel and everyone of whatever heritage is always ready to resort to violence. It was thrilling to see these novels prominently displayed in the bookstore-gift shop of French Quarter's 1850 House Museum. 



In this installment January, his wife Rose, in company of a necessary "white protector" compañero, fellow musician Hannibal Sefton, again leave the relative safety of New Orleans's free people of color communities, traveling to places where, for a large man of color and his pretty lighter-skinned wife, the threat of being kidnapped into slavery is profound. 

Unfortunately, this one's McGuffin to get them out of New Orleans and into peril is a hand wavium so flimsily constructed it bears no weight of examination at all. 

The narrative is primarily made up of the protagonists' travels: first Grande Isle on Louisiana's Gulf Coast, then Cuba and finally, Haiti, to recover a rumored treasure possessed by the white side of Rose's family back when Haiti was San Domingue, prior to the successful Slave Revolution that began in 1791.The successive wars on the island since 1791 that at times involved seven conflicting "sides" sent many of the grands blancs, with more or fewer of their human property, seeking refuge throughout the hemisphere -- particularly in Cuba. 

But the Cuban refuge was only a brief sojourn. In 1808, the Peninsular War in Spain broke out, and Spain was no longer allied with France, but with Britain. Doubting their loyalty and fearing their aspirations and plantation competition, the Cuban ruling class expelled the San Domingan planter refugees. The largest proportion of that population went to New Orleans. Whether from San Domingue - Haiti, or Cuba, these flights of the planters left behind much valuable property of all kinds. This is the background out of which Hambly extracts the McGuffin for January and his wife travels.

In The Crimson Angel, it's now 1838, San Domingue has become Haiti, but without national recognition by the U.S. or most of Europe. And Rose's white half brother, Jefferson Vitrack -- whom we've never heard of before in the series -- comes knocking. He wants their help to travel to slave Cuba to find clues to the treasure hidden on now free Haiti, in order recover their white grandfather's lost treasure. 

The complications are two: 

1) Cuba is a slave island going great guns in sugar, coffee and tobacco industries, taking advantage of San Domingue's domination of the global market in these commodities crashing due to the Black Revolution.* 

2)Mysterious murderous others are also on the trail of the hidden treasure. Nor does anyone know of what exactly this treasure consists. The only clue currently is a tiny ivory-and-cloisonné pendant, in the form of an angel. 

Murder, first of Jefferson Vitrack, followed by attempts to take out Benjamin and Rose, follow them through their peregrinations out of New Orleans, to Rose's white family's sugar plantation on Grand Isle, to Havana and Santiago, and then to Haiti. There is a straining, via January's educated mind, to metaphorically connect Shakespeare's Isle, possessed by the magician Prospero, to Haiti, but it doesn't work very well. In the context of the plot, Jules Verne's Mysterious Island would have been a better metaphor, but this couldn't be employed, as Verne's novel arrives decades in a future sans Benjamin. 

As Cuba is a slave island, it's essential January and Rose have the coverage of a white owner. This role is played by January's long-time New Orleans amigo, investigation compañero and fellow musician, Hannibal Sefton. Rose poses as his mulatta concubine and Benjamin as his valet. 

When they get to Havana, that's where problems kick in that are unconnected to the weak kick-start of the Mcguffin. Some of it is language. For instance the author consistently spells cubano with a capital 'c' and enya -- as Cubaño. This is all more puzzling to the reader since everything about Cuba and Haiti is written from reading research. 

Three more examples of the varieties of odd errors: 

1) A visit to Havana even once tells a person that it is not on the Caribbean, and thus doesn't receive Caribbean breezes -- like New Orleans, it's an Atlantic Ocean - Gulf coast port. 

2) Anyone who has been in Havana in the summer -- or anywhere else in Cuba in the summer -- wouldn't say that after a thunderstorm the steaming humidity and mosquitoes are absent. Cuba is by magnitude hotter and steamy even than New Orleans in summer, particularly on the Caribbean side (seriously blocked by mountains from Havana's location). Haiti is even more so than that! 

3) However, anyone who has been even briefly in both New Orleans and la habana would notice immediately in the 1830's in particular, built by the same Spanish governor according to imperial Spanish model, that New Orleans's own plaza de armas -- Jackson Square now -- is merely a smaller version of Havana's Plaza de Armas, which functions very much these days as the entry point to la habana vieja. Of course when January is there, the mansions that are expanding the city from sugar fortunes, and the edifices of those who service plantation products' buying, selling and shipping -- including constant import and sales of captured Africans -- are just getting built in large numbers. 

Hambly is an excellent researcher. Beyond that, when it comes to New Orleans, which she knows well personally, she never gets any thing wrong, which is a tremendous contrast with both Day of the Dead (no. 7) set in Mexico, and Crimson Angel, which careens through Cuba and Haiti's landscapes, languages and histories, lamentably inserting multiple errors of several kinds. 

Both Day of the Dead and The Crimson Angel are lessons in the limitations of writing novels about real locations, histories, languages and people with which we don't have extensive personal knowledge. The biggest lesson we all can take away is the lack of personal experience in these things weigh down the pacing and rhythm of the story, tend toward wooden scenes and (supporting) characters, which stiffens the depiction of the protagonists readers know and have cared for, over the course of multiple novels. 

------------------------ 

* Much of Cuba's sugar ingenios de azúcar were pillaged by the burgeoning Cuban planter class from the deserted San Domingue sugar plantations, when they sailed as Spanish allies of France to fight the Rebellion. Instead of doing much fighting, the cubanos marshaled ships and forces to dismantle the San Domingue sugar plantation mills, furnaces and machinery and took them back to their own plantations, whether already in existence, or in the process. 

Ada Ferrer's Freedom's Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (2014) describes this process in detail. The fundamental book on the history of the San Domingue revolution, Jamaican C.L.R.'s James's The Black Jacobins (1938), doesn't cover this aspect. Ferrer's history, along with Fernando Ortiz's Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar (1940) -- perhaps the first work of structural anthropology, and still, regrettably the only one of his important works translated into English -- and Ned Sublette's Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo (2004), still considered the best cultural and historical history of Cuba in English, are on the suggested reading list for the Cuban tour we're leading in January and March in 2016. The tours travels literally the geography and culture of Cuba's sugar and tobacco regions.

July 26th, 2015

Poet Elizabeth Alexander

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While working out this afternoon I listened to poet Elizabeth Alexander speak and recite her poetry. Like I have, many who recognize Alexander's name probably first learned of her work when she recited at Obama's second inaugural.  

 

 

 

Her mother was an historian. She's a professor herself as well as a poet. The professor part supports the creative part of her life in many more ways than the financial -- just as being a mother does, she thinks. She's so articulate, her thinking so deeply grounded, that her language shimmers as much while speaking as on the page.

 

She spoke of reading Toni Morrison's Beloved, or rather, how for some years she avoided reading it. "I thought I just can't take it right now.  Some other time."  When she did read it, she could read it only in small bits, over a long period of time.  The novel has captured terrible dimensions of the African American historical experience -- particularly that of the antebellum mother's experience, in the language of poetry. It's terrible beyond describing yet Morrison did it, in language that "shimmers" in words of "radiance." 

 

In the course of the program Alexander said the without centering the black experience and culture in our educational system we have no idea what this nation and its history are.  Of course she's far too generous, intelligent and compassionate to even think that this centering of African American history and culture must be accomplished by, or even should be, through the exclusion of everything else. 

 

review of Alexander's latest book here.

 

 

What she means, what we believe, is that this experience must be finally taken from the sidebar and put as much front and center as that of the battles and diplomacy of the War of Independence.

 

When I brought this up to my partner and co-author of The American Slave Coast he responded: "that indeed is where many historians are at these days.  I think the general weight of the history profession now is there. We have the moral force of history on our side . . . "

 
 
 
 

July 24th, 2015

Stumbling & Lurching

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white kitsune under white moon
This has been a week of perfect summer weather.  We'd been suffering with 101ºF feel and excessive even for us humidity. The two mixed to create the alas tipica toxic air conditions that are called heat-pollution index.  I was able to sit under shady trees for about three minutes -- or even in the dark -- and be drenched all the way through.  But these last days -- splendid!  Lucky us!






Particularly as we utterly incompetent and incapable two, who between us have nary a practical skill to call our own, lurch and trip and stumble to accomplish some minimum and far too long postponed home improvements in this tiny window of days before the travel begins.  At least the travel begins in August for Ned, as he does back-to-back trips to Europe and Cuba.  Mine doesn't begin until September.
*

This doesn't include "merely" the return of all those books to Bobst -- we're finishing that today; yes! that many! -- but the delivery of a new bed tomorrow -- which, incidentally is also our anniversary. 

With this tiny apartment removing the old bed, involves many many steps of shifting Stuff, and oddly, accompanying tasks that involve sorting and throwing out -- though for some reason thousands of CDs that are never listened to, and have been listened to -- all these CDs that come unsolicited in the mail in hopes el V will write about them, promote the artist, mentor artist, write artist's liner notes, and so on -- are not allowed to be part of this throw-out process.

It's a good thing I really love this person!  With whom I have lived in this apartment all these decades.

The problem is my back.  There's only so much I can do, without paralyzing myself with agonizing spasms and nerve pain, that would involve very expensive therapists.

We haven't only done these sorts of things all week. We've hung out the professor who came in, she who did a great deal helping el V get his invitation to Angola in 2012, hearing music in various places, which includes tonight -- an amiga in Harlem has invited us to hear her c&w band play -- last night was one of Angola's greatest artist. Tonight we must keep in mind, that we have to be up early to shift a few more things, strip the bed and get it removed to the hall way so the bed delivery service can haul it away.

When that's all finished I get to dress the new bed in all the news clothes I bought for it!  And that's going to be fun.  But not as much fun as finally having a new bed!

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*  So far, we've got over 30 presentations lined up between Septermber through November for The American Slave Coast, including 3 days in various venues in the Raleigh - Durham triangle, beyond the one at Duke, and The Old Slave Mart Museum in Charleston. We stop in December.  We're trying to not accept anything until the hardest winter is over -- travel is so iffy and difficult in winter now. Besides, there are two trips to Cuba, one in January (filled up already!) and another in March (half filled at this time).  Also likely one to Los Angeles and another to Buenas Aires -- though these aren't for TASC.

July 21st, 2015

Is there anything, anything at all, that Musketeers doesn't do right? and classy?

 

 

 

They even record the music that scores all those action scenes live, in a studio, with an orchestra made up of living female and male musicians! Paul Englisby is the compose and music director.  There aren't that many series that do this, not in the movies, even on Broadway, and certainly not on television.

 

 

There is nothing simple about Musketeers.

 

 

Even the super villain character of Milady de Winter is fully rounded, and complex, mysterious -- and developing. How can a villain develop?  Their job is to be evil and thwart our protagonists.  Even the primary villain of this season Rocheford, isn't simply evil, but boy, is he scary!  King Louis XIII, lost much of his sympathy as he reverts to the arbitrary use of a monarch's power while becoming paranoid and very selfish with it, and thus easily manipulated.

 

All of these characters are equally interesting and were from the first episode of the first episode.  They only became more so in season 2.  So I'm very sad that Milady will not seen during the first episodes of season 3.  Maimie McCoy is pregnant and was't able to join the cast when shooting began for it back in April.

 

 

 

 

The series even does women and people of color right, and within historical context.  That Constance sees so clearly what the consequences up the line for her would be by running off from her husband to live with d'Artagnan -- and then they were able to get married, but not that fast, because Constance feels guilty about her husband's death, though in truth she wasn't responsible in the least. Though she did not love him she never pretended that it was right to be so passionately involved with someone else while married to him.  It wasn't -- honorable.  Though they marry and d'Artagnan is dazzlingly happy, it doesn't seem that he understands even now why Constance didn't immediately fall into partnership with him when Bonacieux was dead.  He seems to believe she merely saw he was right and she was wrong.

 

And it's an adult series in which substantive matters are at stake -- though surely non-adults must find much of the program appealing?

July 19th, 2015

 This map answers that question.

California has killed the most, with Texas not that far behind, and Florida not that far behind Texas.

Only three states have had no one killed by police: Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont.

Nor does this map account for other killings by guns.  The largest population of victims are African Americans.

The year's only half over, btw.

However, effective gun control and regulation is contrary to the interests of the weapons industry, white supremacy, voter repression and particularly the private-for-profit prison industrial complex, which profits in so many ways: for merely a single example of what we're dealing with here, is that much of Whole Foods produce is raised by prisoners paid pennies a day.





Among the other themes in The American Slave Coast is tracking how this for-profit prison business evolved through the slave jails and bounty hunters, kidnappers of free African Americans, the interstate slave trade, the whipping jails for owners too delicate to administer their own "correction" as it was called -- and was embedded in the Constitution upon its drafting, the Constitution itself too delicate to ever use the word "slave" even when these captive persons are specifically targeted.  This was the huge loophole for capital after Emancipation and the end of the Civil War -- it specifically states that uncompensated labor can be coerced from those convicted of a crime, no matter how minor or even a behavior that is no crime for white people, such as driving while black.

That's also from where that well-regulated militia in the Constitution comes from, the right to bear arms: it was every white man's obligation to belong to a militia and have weapons in order to hunt down run-aways and prevent insurrection.

Somehow though, no matter how much education is offered and has been offered and even provided over the decades, there's been no effect on the gunners and convict labor. Thus those who think we should attempt education to deal with these matters that are so basic to the African American community, this is why it sounds very like those who insisted emancipation and abolition would have to wait until the slave population was educated enough to handle freedom, sounds very like those who objected to integration until both white and black were well educated enough to handle it, those who objected to allowing African Americans even the education to read and write until they are ready to make use of literacy (nevermind that in many places even after Emancipation it was against the states' law to teach any African American, free or slave, to read -- or even more particularly write) and now they are supposed to wait again until white people are educated enough to learn that guns kill.

Many of we white people may not have this history at our fingertips, or may well not understand why this history still matters and has bearing on the present, but African Americans know it.  As Ta-Nehisi Coates makes crystal clear in his new book, Between The World And Me, black people never forgot it and are still living it.

The only action that changed any of this (at different periods) is legislation.  And that war, of course.

If we keep waiting to legislate police killings, open carry, lax gun laws in general, the incarceration of people for minor infractions, we're going to wait until the world ends in fire and ice, which, by the way, is comin' right on up, it looks like, since so many of those gunners also are determined to deny unto kingdom come there is such a thing as climate change and that our own behaviors have brought it on. In the end Nature will bring it on.


 After all this time summer has truly arrived. Even earlier this week the temps dropped down to the low 60's at night. No more of that for a while.

NYC has even opened cooling centers for the next few days. 

For the last two years our part of the world -- not only of the nation, but globally, is one of the very few places that hasn't been hotter than the old normal. It has also been cooler than normal. 

That I've fully recovered from whatever the bug that took me out the day The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry went to press is good when it's this hot -- and polluted too, then, of course. The two make a toxic breathing brew ... air quality alerts in effect for most of the week as well. 

In the meantime, this morning I was treated to a posse of tourists taking up the entire sidewalk, leaving no room for anyone to pass, complaining about 1) how hot it is and how it's ruining their fun, and 2) why are all these tourists clogging up the sidewalks and riding in flotillas the wrong way on one way streets taking up all the space on those Citi-bikes? yelling at each other about nothing and paying no attention to anyone in cars or walking? 

This morning we began the process of hauling back hundreds of books that belong to the Bobst (NYU) library.* This includes taking out all the yellow stickies on which I indicate salient information, with title, page number and an abstract about the information. That way when looking for something noticed long ago I can much more easily find it again. (This, needless to say, isn't el V's process or system which is why he spends so much time looking for things again.) 

He's very sad about returning these books, these books which have been read, read carefully, used in the very way their authors intended. Most of them will never go on the ever-reduced number of Bobst's shelving. Even the ones we took from the shelves, will be sent to off-site storage. With off-site storage these books's disuse will only increase. Thus the sadness.




The sadness is also partly because the course of researching The American Slave Coast has starkly revealed how persistently the legacy of white supremacy embedded in slave capitalism as been maintained by so very many, from neo confederates to gun rights -- the latter of which has somehow become the New Jim Crow and expression of white supremacy, along with voter repression.


--------------------------

*  The amount of research, scholarship and care that these books represent is only part of the research materials we consulted over the course of the six years to research, write and prepare The American Slave Coast for the press. We also physically visited as many locations written of within TASC as we were able. A single book that tells the history of Africans' "natural increase" and the intrastate and interstate domestic slave trade, and its shaping of American capitalism and white supremacy  from the earliest colonial history through Emancipation will take that long to do, if done right.

Most of all, this is such sensitive content that one has to study very carefully to not get called out for wrong information, which will be used as gotcha to dismiss the entire book and its information.  I'll explain the latter with a simile: think about how often when gun control and regulation comes up in the context of unarmed young black men and women being killed by police, it is countered with "the most young blacks that are shot are shot by other young blacks," so there's no problem. In fact we need even more armaments to protect ourselves from them.

The index is about 70 pages alone.  The reference section is 60 some pages.  There are more than 1500 citations. Each of these three sections could be expanded if it were requested.That's boggling.  OTH, we did all that digging and reading and analyzing so the readers don't have to.  It really takes at least this much work (as noted previous, we figure making this work has cost us over $200,000 -- including work turned down because we just couldn't fit it into the deadlines).
 
 A new book declares the real beginning of the sexual revolution took place in England, with London the epicenter target of the Blitz.

 

Long article in The Daily Mail:

"Adapted from The Secret History Of The Blitz by Joshua Levine, to be published by Simon & Schuster in partnership with the Imperial War Museum on July 30 at £16.99."
The Blitz intensified sexual desire. A full two decades before the so-called permissive society of the Sixties, a dramatic, if understated, sexual revolution was already taking place — one which would, significantly, prove to be a forerunner of the mores by which Britons live today.




July 18th, 2015

 Animated graphic depicting the African slave trade, part of Slate's ongoing series. Based on the Eltis and Richardson database, with proportional-size dots for the number of kidnapped people per ship, it depicts the movement of 20,528 voyages in two minutes. Who went where, when, seen as a flow. 

 

This makes clear how few Africans were brought to Colonial and U.S. shores, in proportion to those taken to the Caribbean and Latin America.

By the way, briefly after the end of the War of Independence, and then particularly after the War of 1812, a huge percentage of these captives were brought to the Caribbean and South America on ships flying the U.S. flag and carrying U.S. papers.
 

 

 

 

 The three entries in The American Slave Coast's index most unlikely to be found within another single book's index are:

 

1) the Margravate of Azilla;

 

2) Selim;

 

3) Salgar.

 


Happily I'm recovering from whatever knocked me down the last two days. Though still woozy and dizzy, the pains and headache have mostly gone -- well, as much as the pain in my back ever goes away.

July 17th, 2015

Every single joint in my body aches.  My head is still enormous, falling off and exploding.  My vision is blurry.  I tend toward blacking out.

Thank goodness for season 2 of The Musketeers (2015).



July 16th, 2015

 
"There's nothing easier than to be an incendiary. All one needs is a box of matches and a sense of beauty."

 

Sir Max Beerbohm by Jacques-Emile Blanche (1903)
Ashmoleon Museum of Art and Archeology

One does wish for more of this incisive writing in these days of glib shallowness and over-hopped IPA. 

 

The last of everything has been sent to Publisher. The American Slave Coast goes to print tomorrow. Books in warehouse sometime in September. Published October 1. 

 

 

My eyes are dry and itchy. A headache which insists my head is simultaneously falling off and exploding. Sick to my stomach. My left hip is in so much pain I got about 3 hours of sleep. My lower back is screaming.  My neck can't turn. Every part of my body aches.  El V surely feels even worse.

 

July 15th, 2015

Traitor's Blade (2014) is the first installment of a fantasy series with the serial title, Greatcoats, that is inspired to a degree by Dumas's famous Musketeers.  Nor does one need Dave Duncan's blurb to know that fine Canadian author is also an influence. The second volume, Knight's Shadow, appeared earlier this year.

 

 

Traitor's Blade reads like what it is, a first novel.  As a first effort any intelligent reader -- particularly any reader who has also published -- will give the poor proofreading (such as "waste" for "waist") a pass, since genre publishing doesn't usually shell out for professional proofreaders -- or even copy editors.

 

A good copy editor or line editor though, would have helped Traitor's Blade be the better book that is inside it. An editor would have helped the author to smooth out his uneven tone which lurches between what so many mistake as Dumas-style wit and banter, and important yet clumsy metaphysical speculation on the nature of being and nothingness. A good editor would have recognized the author loads too many fight scenes at the front, abruptly introduces magic, then disappears it again for most of the book until suddenly -- magical creatures! An editor would have informed the author that his big reveal is buried. Though Falcios seems to know what this all about, there's so little time provided to the reveal of the big reveal the reader is left scratching her head as to what actually happened and what it means. 


The narrative does move quickly, but necessary transitions have been omitted, which screws with pacing and rhythm.
 

Another way of putting it is that Traitor's Blade needed another revision.

  

Some of these problems are inevitable with a first person narrator, who emotes like someone who has read the addresses of Vlad Taltos often and uncritically, yet who is admirably attempting to hit those notes of tension, stake, peril, courage and justice that combine so pitch perfectly in BBC / America's  






The Musketeers (season 1, 2014; season 2, 2015 -- the very best adventure television ever! with the best coats! horses! leather! and steel!). The voice of the narrator hasn't yet been fine tuned to the story being told, or the voices of the other characters.  Voice is hard!

 

Doing the Dumas affect effectively in English is also difficult.  The French language tends to lend itself to that affect of effortless ballon that English doesn't -- which perhaps

 

 

 

explains why the language of ballet remains French. English language genre writers often seem to think a voice of cynicism and sarcasm is the same light-footed repartee and wit in which a Dumas veils his ideals of justice, loyalty, honor and courage.

 

Justice, loyalty, honor and courage are what Traitor's Blade is about.  So much so that Falcio, our narrator and protagonist, informs the reader early on that the great difference between his kind -- the King's Greatcoats (read musketeeers) and knights (read the Red Guards) is that he and the Greatcoats are about justice, which is for all, no matter what class and station, while knights are about honor, which is about themselves.  This is the primary reason I am looking to find De Castell's second novel, since its title, Knight's Shadow, suggests the author may be exploring that conflict in this one. That's interesting, and not something we've seen that much of lately in fantasy fiction.

 

The voice may not be quite as fresh as it will be, and it is not yet trained, but the mind behind the creation isn't going to be satisfied to writing to formulae.

 

Or so it seems to this reader.

 

P.S. The jacket copy bio's tone doesn't well serve Sebastien De Castell, who it seems to this reader, is on the brink of having a fine writing career.  Yah, it's a genre thing but really, he is an adult.  His book, which wrestles with adult matters -- and so few do these days --  proves it.

 

Charoite in rough state.

Charoite polishes up into lovely jewelry and other pretty items.

 

 

P.P.S.  The author's choice, to name Greatcoat's quest, the King's Charoites, is a happy one. In New Age parlance, chariotes' energies can promote physical and emotional healing, help overcome obsessions / addictions and channel other positive transformations when worn on the skin. Their shades of violet are lovely.

 

The following links are from the New York Times.  Be aware the New York Times has a ten-story limit per month for non-subscribers.  Reading the full article is highly recommended.  If one wishes not to deal with the ten-story limit open the NY Times in the private or incognito window of browser of choice.

"The IMF Is Telling Europe the Euro Doesn't Work" examines the IMF's three scenario - solutions for Greece's ongoing monetary crises.

The I.M.F. memo amounts to an admission that the eurozone cannot work in its current form. It lays out three options for achieving Greek debt sustainability, all of which are tantamount to a fiscal union, an arrangement through which wealthier countries would make payments to support the Greek economy. Not coincidentally, this is the solution many economists have been telling European officials is the only way to save the euro — and which northern European countries have been resisting because it is so costly.

The three options laid out by the I.M.F. would have different operations, but they share an important feature: They involve other European countries giving Greece money without expecting to get it back. These transfers would be additional to the approximately 86 billion euros in new loans contemplated in Monday’s deal.

The key words here are "fiscal union."  As discussed in yesterday's entry here, at this moment the Eurozone is not a true union, for it is not a fiscal union at all.  One of the options does mean reformatting the Eurozone as a true fiscal union:

. . . one of the debt relief options proposed by the I.M.F. is “explicit annual transfers to the Greek budget,” that is, direct payments from other governments to Greece, which it could use to make its debt payments. This, obviously, is a fiscal union.

It's fiscal union in the same way that the U.S. federal government pours money gathered from richer states into Mississippi, which Mississippi never needs to or expects to return -- not even the FEMA $10 million dollars to replace the Katrina-destroyed "presidential library" of arch-traitor, Jefferson Davis.

[The following links are not to pay wall publications, so private window isn't necessary.]

One of the most interesting aspects of this crisis for me, because it is not discussed within the context of Greek debt at all, is the ongoing, associated crisis of refugees fleeing the extremities of heat and drought, as well as the violence that has taken over so many African countries.  On the Greek island of Lesbos, waves of refugees from many places including Turkey have increased enormously -- which also interferes with the tourist trade that bankrupt Greece needs so much right now.  Southern Italy and Spain have thousands arriving every year, many of whom hope to make their way across Europe and get to England -- see the emergency at the port of Calais and the Chunnel. Shanty towns have burgeoned in the last months, while men do desperate things, including trying to break into locked cars lined up at the Chunnel's entrance.

There is discussion of these waves of refugees in other contexts, that include how to perhaps parcel the refugees out among the Eurozone nations.  However, Poland flat out says, "We don't want them and we won't have them."  Hungary plans to build walls* to keep out refugees, angering Serbia.  It seems to me if there is a functioning Eurozone, almost its first order of business should be providing aid and assistance in all ways, including helping to establish some order upon the refugee-immigrant pressure from climate change and violence -- and planning ahead to decrease climate change, and to adapt to it. These pressures are growing and will continue to intensify in the decades ahead.

How many have died from the heat this summer in Pakistan?

----------------------------

*  We've seen here how well walls work at keeping out desperate, determined people.  On the other hand walls help grandly with growing the police state, as private citizens who can't afford helicopters are stopped by any and all "security" forces on any whim and grilled as to who, what, why and where, as we personally experienced last summer in Texas.


July 14th, 2015

 In 1803 Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to William Henry Harrison

 

William Henry Harrison, War of 1812
". . .  as the diplomatic crisis leading to the Louisiana Purchase unfolded, Jefferson suggested that if the various Indian nations could be encouraged to purchase goods on credit, they would likely fall into debt, which they could relieve through the sale of lands to the government.3"

So we see the practice of the well-off ensnaring the less rich in a web of indebtedness out of which they cannot extricate themselves other than losing everything they once owned -- even their bodies in many times and places, as in Rome, which demanded people sell themselves and their entire families into slavery to repay the patriarch's loan -- is ancient and well established.

 

The contemporary Greeks understand this very well.  Over these last days the media has been speaking with Greeks, Greeks who are the average woman in the street sort: small business owners, people who work in restaurants, teach, and so on.  While speaking in English as a second language, these people are articulate and well-informed.  They, their families, friends and communities have been thinking deeply about their condition relative to the EU and their place in it for a long time.

 

One of their ways of describing what they are subjected to is to compare their situation as a small, poor nation within the Eurozone with that of being Mississippi (the poorest state) in the United States.  To paraphrase generally:

 

[the United States, a big and powerful single entity includes poor states.  All the states pay taxes to the federal government but the richer ones pay more.  The poorer states receive more benefits in taxes, rather than having everything taxed and taken away from them.  But in the EU, controlled by very a coalition of very rich and powerful nations, with deep ties to the IMF and other international financial interests, the weak and poor are taxed of everything for their own benefit.  We see nothing in return.  it's that the U.S. takes and gives according to need not power that makes it a single nation, in which the people see themselves as citizens of the United States first and citizens of their states second. This allows the system to flourish.  The EU is composed of nations who see themselves first as citizens of their nations and citizens of the EU only as they can benefit from it.  This is not a whole, but a set of conflicting powers, in which the poor are preyed upon by the rich. The rich are not interested in helping the poor but only in exploiting us.  Thus the EU is not a single entity and cannot be, unlike the U.S.]

 

As things are now in the U.S. and always have been I might takes some issue about the U.S. being a single entity working for the benefit of all.  But I get the point they're making.

 

One of the primary themes in The American Slave Coast is the division of the colonies, first, during the Constitutional Convention second, and then third in the antebellum era.  The argument, which is not an original one exactly, is that the U.S. could never become a single nation until slavery was taken out.  There were two parallel economies at play all during our history, always in conflict with each other.  A credit, not cash economy, most of the slavery states' wealth was calculated in African American captives -- in whose bodies their credit was calculated. 

 

 

 

It was a closed economic system, one in which its wealth could not be used outside itself, i.e. an African American could not be exchanged up north directly for a carriage, but one could do that very thing in the South, including paying one's gambling debts. Thus as a particular form of capitalism, it had to expand or die. It was an enormous drag on the economy and financial systems of the the free soil states, just starting with the stark obstacle that there could be no national system of money.

 

 

The first thing Lincoln did when Fort Sumter was fired upon -- after calling for volunteers for the army -- was commission Secretary of Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, to create a national currency.  Recall also that Buchanan's southern planter cabinet members and their appointees, as well as the southern senators and representatives stole every bit of specie -- and everything else they could -- from the federal government, even unto an office's petty cash, before decamping to TraitorLandia, where they then competed to become president of the CSA. There was no money at all to run the federal government.

 

 

Chase's greenback was the first national currency and it worked.  Even by the end of the war it still retained a bit more than 61% of its value.  We all know what happened with the CSA currency, backed by the wealth contained in the bodies of the captive African Americans . . . .

 

After the war, the U.S. did have a single currency, and then only was able to become a single nation.* The Greeks understand this, but they feel the EU isn't treating them fairly, which is how the U.S. treats Mississippi.  Recall, Mississippi went from the wealthiest state in the union in 1860, with the largest number of millionaires, to the poorest in 1865.

 

Will the EU survive?  As we are experiencing yet again in the U.S., we are questioning whether or not we can survive as a single entity, even with our common currency. 

 

-----------------------

 

* The Southern slaveocracy was anti-paper and banks, as well as anti-city and public improvements, and certainly anti-tax -- and paying fair wages for labor -- and still is, for that matter!

BTW, a former Virginia governor is a blurber for The American Slave Coast!

 

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