Archive for July, 2009

Cambridge Goddam

(This piece was originally posted to Daily Kos. All iterations of “this blog,” “this site,” and the like, thus reference that place, not this one.)

When they slapped the cuffs on Henry Louis Gates Jr., they took it all away from him. In his 58 years he’d done everything he was supposed to, played all the games, made all the moves, but now none of it mattered: when it came right down to it, he was just another uppity Negro, and he was going to jail.

This was the supreme humiliation for Henry Louis Gates, because he has achieved a rarefied status and the considerations that are usually afforded to him went right out the window when the officer arrested him. In a minute, that cop erased all that Gates has had to work through to get where he is. That officer tripped every racial humiliation that Gates and his family have experienced since slavery.”

Brought it all back home. And today Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is sitting there on the piano bench, right next to Nina Simone, and he’s singing “Cambridge Goddam.”

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Peasant Palate: Lamb For Possum

Seems possum, a.k.a. Jerry Northington, once and future candidate for Delaware’s lone seat in the US House of Representatives, likes to gnaw on little lambs.

Not all Americans are so inclined. My daughter, for instance, still pretty young, eschews little lambs for “Mary-had-a” reasons. My mother, not quite so young, avoids the creature because, while growing up during the Great Depression, she was too often invited to the family table to dine on tough—though plenty cheap—mutton. Sixty years on, she remains averse to encountering even the odor of the ruminant, as it bubbles in the pot, much less the thing itself, placed on a plate before her. Understood.

But in this “Peasant Palate” we pay no attention to such people. Instead, with possum, we bare our fangs, and prepare to receive between them little sheeps. Know that the mutton that so nauseated my mother is not on the menu: “lamb,” which is what is today sold in American supermarkets and butcher shops, and is referenced in all seven recipes below, comes from the beastie cut down before it enters its second year. It is sheep slaughtered past that date that become “mutton.”

As the first two recipes are Italian, a little Italian food music to take us to the “furthur,” music presented in three languages: English, Italian, and scat.

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Late For Bloomsday

Exquisite variations he was now describing on an air Youth here has End by Jans Pieter Sweelinck, a Dutchman of Amsterdam where the frows come from. Even more he liked an old German song of Johannes Jeep about the clear sea and the voices of sirens, sweet murderers of men, which boggled Bloom a bit:

Von der Sirenen Listigkeit
Tun die Poeten dichten
.

These opening bars he sang and translated extempore. Bloom, nodding, said he perfectly understood and begged him to go on by all means, which he did.
 

The True Story Of Billy The Kid

There was nothing at the edge of the river
But dry grass and cotton candy.
“Alias,” I said to him. “Alias,
Somebody there makes us want to drink the river
Somebody wants to thirst us.”
“Kid,” he said. “No river
Wants to trap men. There ain’t no malice in it. Try
To understand.” 

slim

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stood there by that little river and Alias took off his shirt
          and I took off my shirt
I was never real. Alias was never real.
Or that big cotton tree or the ground.
Or the little river.

—Jack Spicer, “Billy The Kid,” The Collected Books of Jack Spicer 

La Musica: Dreams

I used to think dreams were magic. A portal into someplace special. I read all the Jung, all the dream books. I kept journals. Traced the trails of my unconscious, looking for Meanings and Grails.midnight_dreams

I now think that’s all a load of bollocks, to be frank. Dreams are but a nocturnal processing system, of information received while the corporeal container is up and about. In any remembered dream I can easily find analogues to events or emotions experienced in an earlier waking state. Or nudges towards things I should, as KGO’s Ray Taliaferro puts it, “be thinking about, talking about, or doing something about.”

Maybe I’ve just soured on dreams because they don’t give me anything anymore. Maybe the problem is, as Joseph Kern says in Red, “it’s been years since I dreamt something nice.” Well, not quite that bad. But close.  

Some guy on the radio said Vitamin B6 stimulates vivid dreaming. I’m trying that. Nothing to report.

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Puma Pellets

One of the more bizarre spectacles of the 2008 presidential campaign had to be the PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass)—Clinton II dead-enders who absolutely refused to accept that she had lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama. Like those furtive, fugitive WWII Japanese soldiers who scurried for years around remote South Pacific atolls, declining to follow the Emperor into surrender, PUMAs could not concede when their Queen did.hillary-clinton-eyes They left the party, claiming the party, in failing to crown Clinton II, had left them. Stubborn and ornery as unreconstructed Confederates, there were never that many of them, but they made a lot of noise: pounding their keyboards on renegade blogs, keening loudly on gossipy TV shows. Resembling those bullfrogs that swell up to intimidate potential predators, they managed to convince some people they were bigger and fiercer than they really were. In the end, they even encouraged Bomb McCain—when ordered by Karl Rove to eschew Joe Lieberman as his vice president—to shoot his own campaign right in the stomach, by choosing the moose-brained Sarah Palin as his running mate . . . on the theory she would stampede the PUMAs to the GOP, allowing him to ride them into the White House. Didn’t work out too good, that one, did it, John?

Like cancer cells beaten into remission, they glumly clung on through the general election. Then, not even President Obama’s selection of Clinton II as his Secretary of State mollified them. On blogs like No Quarter, a nut-bunker maintained by former CIA spook and fervent Islamophobe Larry Johnson, and The Confluence and Alegre’s Corner, a couple of shriek-shacks knocked together by refugees from Daily Kos, the PUMAs practiced a sort of political schizophrenia: damning or ignoring everything that could be said to come from Obama, while gushing over anything that could plausibly be linked to Clinton II. And they’re still at it.

There were also always closeted PUMAs in more high-profile positions, of course. These, however, were, from the convention on, generally well-behaved. Until this week. Now, for some reason, they’ve decided to commence the handwringing: the Queen is being Ignored.

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Alexander Unveiled

0128-alexander-the-great“It was the conquests themselves that were the driving force of Alexander’s conquests. Conquest was itself the point of conquest. And the final result of his conquests was the phenomenon of conquest.

“He did not unite anything, did not lay the foundation for anything, did not create anything. The first pure bandit in history, the first instinctive predator, the first disinterested wreaker of genocide. A sort of horrible sewer pipe. Something went gurgling through it, but nothing remained after. Thin air, empty space, a void.”
                                                                —Tadeusz Konwicki, Moonrise, Moonset


When I Worked

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