Until my husband died, I didn't realize how many of these there are to get through; the difference between the "holiday" ones and non-holiday ones is no one much speaks of the latter as they are individual. I read on mirable dictu a history of her thanksgivings; they become more vague towards the end.
Ian just now on the other side of my computer -- by the window where the sun comes in
Mine can be described briefly: from the time I remember until some time after my parents moved away from the Bronx (was I 11?), we went to my father's relatives on Thanksgiving in the southeast Bronx where most of us lived: there were a number of relatives and my grandmother made Thanksgiving. Then she got too ill to do such work, and went to live with my aunt (my father's second sister), and we went one Thanksgiving to this aunt's apartment in Brooklyn and some relatives were there. Then nothing observed.
The year Jim and I married we and my parents were invited to another of my aunts, this time my mother's younger sister living on Staten Island for Thanksgiving and since my birthday occurs around that time, my aunt had a cake for me. It was one of the kind events that have occurred on my birthday over the years; another was the year Jim and I met and he gave me a bunch of yellow flowers on my birthday. I would be around 24 for that Thanksgiving at my mother's sister's and 22 when Jim bought me the flowers. Then for around 10 or so years Jim and I and my parents did Thanksgiving together: I had one daughter when I was 31 so there was a baby towards the end of that custom. Then Jim and I moved to Alexandria; for 2 years we returned to NYC to have Thanksgiving with them but the second year it was not a 8 but 11 hour trip and we stopped. WhenI was 39 or so my parents came here once after that and I remember Jim built a fire in the fireplace; Izzy had been born and that was why they came. But it was a grinding trip for them and we had nowhere for them to sleep.
Since Jim complained Turkey was so dry and there was too much of it, we began just to have a chicken and go for a walk in a nearby park or in picturesque Old Town Alexandria (just down the hill from my house), once Roosevelt Island. I did try to make it celebratory (in the way I used to try for Christmas) but I was too old and disillusioned to keep up such an effort; he disliked these imposed holidays as falsifying (like Trollope I suppose). The first year Jim died, Thao (who I used to call my third daughter) a ex-student become friend came with her partner (from Canada! -- they also visited others in DC and DC itself) and I tried to make a dinner out of a chicken and vegetables but I am a bad cook. After that it's been chicken and a movie with Izzy, or chicken with Izzy and a walk by myself.
Clarycat sitting on the floor nearby -- near the heat coming out of the grate
This year, yesterday to become precise, I phoned my mother's sister, the same aunt who made me that cake (now living in New Jersey), because a birthday card had arrived (I will be 69 on Nov 29th); and she and I and my uncle talked for about a half an hour on a kind of group call.
I've known my Aunt Barbara since I was 3 years old and she was 16: the spring I was three she came to visit my parents; after my mother and father married, her parents declared my mother dead. This is a Jewish exclusionary practice, my father was born Catholic though by the time he was in his teens, he was an atheist -- not much better. Well my aunt came to our apartment, made up with my parents, and then to took me over to my grandparents for the first time to try to make up. The four did, sort of, and I lived with my Jewish grandparents and this aunt for four months when I was 4. I remember traveling with her through Brooklyin on trolley cars. When I was around 13 and she 26 we were said to resemble one another. So she kindly sent a birthday card; it may be my only one.
Today Izzy and I will walk in Alexandria around noon, and put on a chicken around 3, eat early so she can watch her ice-skating on ice-network tonight.
Considerably idealized -- through color, light, figures -- a street in Old Town Alexandria (Faye.F. Vander)
I'm reading Ford Madox Ford's Fifth Queen (Katharine Howard and Thomas Cromwell), Jenny Diski's Apology for a Woman Writing (a novel whose central character is Marie le Jars de Gourney, pupil, amanuensis, young friend of Montaigne), and Deborah Cherry's Beyond the Frame: Feminism and Visual Culture, Britian 1850-1900. As seen here I've blogged (as has Izzy), I'll be posting to friends on listserv, maybe face-book, and write an email letter to a friend in England; I spent a good day with her in London this past September.
I prefer Thanksgiving to Xmas because at least people are not expected to exchange (often expensive) presents so the culture has not managed to commercialize it.
Samuel Johnson suggested we can find some rest on the stability of truth. Accepting ourselves, what we are, what we have become, helps too. Kindness is the hardest task as so often there are obstacles (inward, outward).
So, the best story I've ever read about these sorts of holidays is Bobbie Ann Mason's "Drawing Names" in her Shiloh and Other Stories. It is about a family get-together that occurs every Christmas; it's not caustic or bitter or satiric (like Saki) but rather gives a real gist of what such occasions are like, including tensions between people who are supposed to mean much to one another, fraught disappointments kept down but emerging. I recommend the whole volume and also especially "Residents and Transients" about how Americans move so frequently than in most neighborhoods where people own their own homes, it's still rare to find the same group of people living there within a 7 year period. The heroine and her husband were residents though as Jim and I were and I am now. I've been in this house for 32 years and just about everyone around me for a two block length and across the street (whom I know) has been here less than 10.
P.S. If you would like to comment and do not belong to livejournal, send the comment direct and I'll post it.
As we all know, a gang of fanatic-Islamic people killed many French people and did what they could to destroy their places of pleasure in Paris on Friday night. It is hard to find words to express how horrible the acts, aims, rhetoric of these particular gangs of fanatic-Islamic terrorists. These particular groups want to destroy secular tolerant societies,sweep away with derision those decent values that have emerged after centuries and centuries of human endeavour, erase history, enslave women, they kill people in the most painful brutal ways imaginable (who beheads someone with a knife while recording this?).
What these organization want is to drive a wedge between secular French people and Muslims living in France. It's important to remember that these groups do not represent all Muslims the way George Bush and Cheney do not represent all Americans. There has been tension, conflict, trouble in France: there is prejudice and discrimination against Muslims who are often poorer, don't get into the good schools, live in beautiful places, or the better jobs. That was the larger purpose of the Charlie Hebdo attack -- to make as many people in France as possible angry or fearful. That attack did have the effect of ratcheting up anti-semitism in France: since Israel behaves monstrously to the Palestinians (and is blame in the way the US and other gov'ts are, and their spies and brutal agencies too -- putting down Arabs, social democracies). If the past teaches us, this will be a hard thing to try to counter. Hollande is no Bush or Cheney or Netanyahu monster, but he must act to protect the people he is elected to take care of (one of his overall jobs). I feel for Angela Merkel's efforts to open her borders to refugees.
It was an attack on Paris itself -- and where evening fun goes on. I did think a moment of good thought to build upon was Obama's immediate reference to the long-time alliance of French people with Americans beginning in the later 18th century with the French supporting the American revolution and the Americans supporting the French (well enough people on both sides) and his reference to the good values underlying this time: liberty, egality, fraternity. While away I watched another episode of the mini-series, Shoulder to Shoulder (on my ipad) on the suffragettes; and that was Obama's phrase too: shoulder to shoulder.
As to defeating them, see Charles Pierce in Esquire today: the only way to defeat ISIS (stop funding bankers, hold accountable the military states which fund mass murder).
Well, my daughter, Izzy, on her blog. We Need more Fruit, has had the right response: celebrate and remember French achievements in the art. Izzy loves ice-skating, knows a lot about it, reports on it regularly on her blog. On Friday in Bordeaux, the second day of the Trophee Eric Bompard was cancelled -- it was felt to be dangerous. Izzy has written briefly about this and then as a tribute to French artistic achievement, produced a remarkable history of French Ice-skating using 13 YouTubes. The history is culled so precisely with just the right videos each time, you are also seeing a history of the way ice-skating is recorded, presented and yes danced too: She begins with slow (slowed down technically) graceful rendition on a snowy landscape in 1928 or 1932 (not sure which year), and takes you the beginnings of recordings of actual competition, then color comes in, then we feel the presence of the audience (note one using the music of West Side Story where the young man and woman represent Maria and Bernard in their dance and the audience begins to clap), the Sury Bonaly skating to Vivaldi's Four Seasons, more "character-driven" programs, ending on recent Olympic champions, powerful men doing singles (Brian Joubert), all the way up to 2012 and 2015.
I transfer just the first, but go and watch them and read the history interwoven:
Dear Livejournal readers and friends,
I begin with last week's election results: take heart, everyone I voted for won! this is a first for me. News reporters say this is a conservative victory: not in Alexandria, Va. I unerringly vote for the most liberal and leftist candidate in sight: a black fireman on the city council; against commercial development of our parks. I also vote for people who have expertise in the area they are supposed to work in: so for the school board I voted for people also with a long history and record you can observe in education. All three won.
Again people say how conservative Virginia is -- or we hear this in the media -- or that this election showed how conservative all the US is. Above is an adequate adjusted for population colored map of the 2008 presidential election results. (The media is owned and operated by the wealthy.)
In fact along the coast what's called Tidewater in Virginia is mainstream democratic; it used to be heavily US naval people. I live in one of three northern counties of Virginia and while Fairfax (one of the wealthiest counties in the US) generally goes republican, not always. This time Arlington (the third of the three) where one of my daughters live went democratic this election. Yet you will be told that Virginia elections show a conservative trend -- yes some big positions in Richmond (our capitol) went conservative, but in truth what happened was a mixed result. Alexandria where I live is the most liberal county in the state but again often I don't choose the winning candidate. This time Alexandria (City it's called) went liberal democratic and also for people with previous experience and background. You don't hear that reported in the wider news shows.
The extraordinary meanness of the Republicans runnning for president is hardly mentioned; Charles Simic of the New York Review of Books (November 19, Bernie & Hilary and the Future) put it well:
"One expects imbecilities and outright lies from politicians running for office, but not so much undisguised meanness and desire to hurt people. Many of the conservatives we saw seemed moved by nothing as much as hatred. Women, young people, blacks, immigrants, gays, liberals, teachers—the list could go on for pages. The impression I had was that there was a wish to see the lives of millions and millions of their fellow citizens made miserable. The audience loved it. Applause greeted many of these heartless pronouncements. They didn’t sound to me like a crowd pining to elect a future president of a constitutional democracy"
How they treat Veterans:
Finally an unusually intelligent article on on-line learning: it shows the importance of the class divide in America and where the malice of those voting for a Trump or his ilk finds one of its sources; the nature of their experiences of institutions and daily life. I know what's meant when the the author said "it's better than nothing." Nothing was what many had before. The education establishment is moving on-line because it's cheaper and those who run it will make more money.
The real quarrel with on-line learning was pointed out in a humane New Yorker article some months ago on the closing of a high school in Jamaica, Queens: the change in people's lives (and in his) comes from one-on-one contact (at that high school with no prestige and "low scores") and the hope that a specific encounter can turn a trick, open a door, for you for a fulfilling job, or a friendship. Open University in the UK provided this. That's being cut: the UK gov't is cutting down severely Open University where for little you could go to an accommodating flexible college face-to-face in your local area.
I am from that group only I was lucky enough to live in NYC in the 1960s when the City university was just about for free if you could get there. I took two buses from my apartment. I agree that the faculty has no malice: just ignorance. For me it was callousness though that I saw and I know that it embitters students (ie. me in some moods).
So last on these connections: An essay by George Justice supposedly on his cancer (Chronicle of Higher Education) is from the other side of the wall of class and money -- he is a Dean at Arizonza one of the colleges that is doing online courses, and he mentioned how new people are running the academic parts of his college. He cannot forget for a moment his status, and needs endlessly to justify and to bolster: most of the time these cancer stories are about how I conquered, this one differs in its reference to the job for money and endless hard work. This man might stand for a voter for Hilary, safety it's thought. But read Simic on her understanding of her foreign war policy, the US past, and its results.
It seems (among other documented realities) that his father physically rioted with Ku Klux Klanners, and his Trump rental properties regularly kept black people from renting their properties. His mother was from a Scottish immigrant family (the Hebrides): she repeated Norman Vincent Peale exhortations at him. He hits out egregiously and without provocation at people through newspapers. The essay then shows him over the course of his life to lie and to act thoroughly immorally, close and beyond the legal (a crook some might say). He exaggerates the wealth he's garnered: he's not as fabulously rich as is made out. Trump has grown rich by schemes which either go beyond legal or stay just within what's allowed. A few people can become rich this way -- Romney had a company which within the law destroyed companies to make huge sums for investors. Trump seems to go beyond this in that he's gotten away with what he does by suing. People sue him, he sues back. These suits attract attention. He has behaved and now takes on a body stance as a thug.
We know his way is to retort with nasty rhetorical questions that are unanswerable in any quick way back. Friedell's piece brings out how this is the sneer direct. He's a master at relying on sneering. "Who can refute a sneer?" -- much less a self-righteous bullying one based on a complex of false assumptions enough people believe.
It's not long
The answer to why the Networks keep telling stories about him is their ratings go up every time he appears, is mentioned and that means advertising dollars. But what I've noticed too is how little information the people say who keep talking about him. They have a tendency simply to repeat what he said or show a clip of him saying something. Now often these hired talkers for these TV style commercial news-shows say little about a politician who might become or is powerful, but they are not this careful. The oddity comes from a fear of litigation. This fear could also be preventing reporters from exposing his nefarious practices: they are willing to expose the Clintons, were willing to expose Romney. They and their employers are afraid of this man's tongue and teams of lawyers.
If any reader of this blog can supply URLs to further insightful essays for other readers, let me know. I'll add it to Friedell's insightfully written sketch.
P.S. The comment on sneers in quotation marks was made by a British scholar, William Paley.
I posted a wonderful video, Henry, Le Chat Noir from Roger Ebert's site long ago -- on my other Sylvia blog and have posted videos and pictures of my two beloved companion-cats here, Ian and Clarycat. For today, some clever inkblots from Artfinder and one of Marge Piercy's poems in her Sleeping with Cats:
I am at once source
and sink of heat; give
and take. I am a vast
soft mountain of slow breathing.
The smells I exude soothe them:
the lingering odor of sex,
of soap, even of perfume,
its after-aroma sunk into skin
mingling with sweat and the traces
of food and drink.
They are curled into flowers
of fur, they are coiled
hot seashells of flesh
in my armpit, around my head
a dark sighing halo.
They are plastered to my side,
a poultice fixing sore muscles
better than a heating pad.
They snuggle up to my sex
purring. They embrace my feet.
Some cats I place like a pillow.
In the morning they rest where
I arranged them, still sleeping.
Some cats start at my head
and end between my legs
like a textbook lover. Some
slip out to prowl the living room
patrolling, restive, then
leap back to fight about
hegemony over my knees.
Every one of them cares
passionately where they sleep
and with whom.
Sleeping together is a euphemism
for people but tantamount
to marriage for cats.
Mammals together we snuggle
and snore through the cold nights
while the stars swing round
the pole and the great horned
owl hunts for flesh like ours.
--- Marge Piercy, Sleeping with Cats ...
Sleuthing (as depicted by Edward Gorey): careful what "ghastly" thing/creature you turn up under that rock ...
Dear friends and readers,
Last week I wrote about a new book detailing what was obvious at first and later marginalized, denied, and slowly forgotten: that the assassination of John Kennedy was as politically (and probably personally too) motivated as any other assassination of a linchpin leader. It was that week I read a story on the Internet and in print media about how a year before the US president Bush invaded Iraq based on lies about WMD, the British PM, Tony Blair, sent a memo to Bush promising Britain would back or go to war in Iraq with the US. What was striking to me was not that the story was leaked by wikileaks nor that the memo was printed, but that it appeared in several different places on the Net. It made the conservative British paper, The Telegraph. So in both cases it was easy to come across these stories, complete with corroboration.
Bush around the time or just after 9/11, which he hid from -- still from Fahrenheit 9/11
Then this week Elizabeth Drew (not Chris Hedges or some writer who would be seen as a gloomy extremist and exaggerator) wrote a column for the NYR Daily where she reviewed some facts about George Bush's refusal to act on warnings that something like 9/11 was about to occur. Although she doesn't say it explicitly, it does seem that his inaction was wilful. And if that was true, it follows that he wanted a terrorist attack to occur, perhaps so he could then move forward with his war plans.
Again I thought about how at the time people suggested how convenient the attack had been and later how Bush and his supporters and personal cronies made a lot of money when Iraq was torn apart and new corporations could muscle in. Yes for most people it has been an unmitigated disaster from most Iraqis to the US people who lost their lives, were maimed, and the US taxpayer who paid for this horror to happen. But arms manufacturers, Haliburton, Bush corporate supporters made a lot of money. Its arguable that for Bush and his supporters it was a success. I remember reading Paul Foote in the LRB after the Kuwait debacle citing how much money specifically Thatcher and her husband and various individuals made on that war -- from investments later on.
What puzzled me was why Drew and other people's prompt was Donald Trump's off-hand egregious frankness, intended not to expose the realities of that war but embarrass Bush's brother, Jeb. I wondered why Trump's imbecilic idiolect gets respect. Could anyone say why Trump's utterances become the meaningless center of serious questioning.
This might seem a frivolous beside the point. But I don't think so. On Trump: it's worrying that with his billions and the judgements of the supreme court he will take the republican nomination and that he might win against Clnton as the ultimate polished establishment candidate. When on the rare occasions I've been confronted by him on TV in a room I'm in I am electrified with astonishment at the crudity and vagueness and dangerness and bigotry and absurdity of what I've heard. he says: "Iraq does not exist. We will move in there, and take the oil." We? He has billions to spend.
On the bringing out of these criminal behaviors and voiced intentions: it's as if anything which grabs attention is being seized to re-spotlight these causes of the present never-ending war and creation of crazed barbaric raging groups of excluded men, religious fanatics, vying political military dictatorships.
There have now been 13 years of horrible warfare (making huge sums of money for some, millions of refugees lives ruined, destroyed worlds), each time making whatever was a gov't far far worse. Not that this is anything new: began in the early 1950s : the LRB is one of the few periodicals to tell hard truths: well this week, the British gov't joined the US in using drones to kill individuals. David Soar on "a little life:" The power of the piece is in the unusual concreteness: we begin by learning about the two murdered people, the specifics of how it was done, how these newly improved machines work .... and how Cameron uses the incident politically.
Could there be groups in power who want to expose this sort of thing more deeply yet (it would be who initiated this new drone policy), in order to effect some sort of change? towards much cheaper peace? Not the chief centrist democrat running for president and her supporters: from what we have seen and heard of Hilary Clinton she will not change these foreign policies; she is pictured as unflappable. Indeed the thing about the Benghazi hearings is how little they brought out. It's not hard to be unflappable when the questions are silly:
On DemocracyNow.org Amy Goodman spoke with Melvin Goodman, a CIA employee in the 1980s about this Here is a little of that transcript:
"What was learned was irrelevant. What was relevant wasn’t discussed. And it was those areas that concern me. Why was the CIA operating a base out of Benghazi? Why was the State Department operating a transitional mission facility, a TMF—it wasn’t a consulate—in Benghazi? Why was Ambassador Stevens, who was aware of the security situation, in Benghazi in the first place? So, none of these questions have been asked. ... we created a disaster in Libya ... Hillary welcomed that news with the words 'We came, we saw, he died.'
Goodman gives Obama the credit of trying to change these policies; of occasionally questioning them, but in the end becoming intimidated with what would be required (or maybe not wanting to act differently in any fundamental way).
To sum up, several stories -- the Kennedy assassination, Bush ignoring and doing nothing about evidence that an attack was readying itself on the US and making no preparations to counter it; his going into Iaq (nothing to do with the attack), Blair's complicity a year before -- are surfacing in a brief time, turn up as mainstream books or by mainstream writers or their periodicals. All encourage the re-bringing out of behaviors and motives of people behind these central events that could or should be called criminal.
This blog is prompted by my seeing a semi-documentary movie today, Kajaki (aka Kilo Two Bravo), which I hope to write about tomorrow night.
Dear friends and readers,
I used Tenier's picture to suggest the murkiness this paradigmatic and important incident was thrown into, how it's now blurred and by news media most of the time firmly put into "the past" when it's not. It's utterly relevant today.
When I first knew my husband, Jim, in 1968, he used to joke about a British friend who had all sorts of theories about the Kennedy assassination, especially the second shooter on the grassy knoll. Jim thought that evidence suggests Lee Harvey Oswald acted with others. It's been silenced because (forsooth) it's been repeated so often so that we become inured and will not take any explanation seriously and mystification does the rest. The probability is Jack Ruby's murder of Oswald (including easy access) was instigated to silence Oswald. Conveniently Ruby was not far from death himself.
This evening I heard a very different story about an investigation in the 1970s well after the Warren report on the 1963 assassination -- yet it goes the heart of what was suggested at the time .Kennedy was killed because he refused to back the Bay of Pigs invasion. It's the full context that makes it persuasive. Talbot begin in the 1950s with the CIA overthrow of social democracies in Argentina, and then moves to Guatemala and finally Cuba. Talbot suggests that indeed Kennedy may have been killed because he was not willing to go to nuclear war to keep the Cuban island safe for the US fruit and other corporate companies -- though to find the trail you must begin with the larger US as dictatorial power for the wealthy in the US and elsewhere and dive down through twisty indirections.
For my part I remember the incident differently from the Talbot tells it: Talbot claims it was Kennedy who refused to go as far as dropping a nuclear weapon on the island -- and remember it's 90 miles off the coast of Florida. My father was put on the "alert" as a warden; that there might be a war! As we watched senator after senator endorsed Kennedy. My father was stunned by the personal cowardice and indifference to human life and the planet too.
Then later that dawn Krushchev punted; he would not take the bait. An older man. It was Krushchev who saved the world from its first nuclear conflict -- the Japanese had had no weapon to hit back with. We woke up safe because Krushchev made a deal with Kennedy where he agreed not to use Cuba as some platform to spread socialism (and not place any weapons there) and Kennedy agreed to leave the island in peace. He did not agree not to isolate it economically which we proceeded to do. We kept Guantanomo -- a fateful decision.
I make this into a blog in the hope of reaching more people so they can listen and judge for themselves (if they can, use their own memories of that gripping and fearful week):
The mainstream media is not going near this but you can read reviews elsewhere:
Kennedy and Dulles looking away from each other
Tom Toro's Daily Cartoon
Two further corroborating interviews and stories:
The thing to keep your eye on is the similarity of he behavior of ISIS with these drug crime groups -- both the product of decades of excluding males from any economic opportunity or voice in their governing. Also that in all cases women suffer (in effect) gang-rapes
To sign a petition (it might effect a tiny bit of pressure) and read about her first book, go to Enrique's Journey
What we are is afraid -- afraid of and distrustful of one another, and our mass media and culture and gov't reinforces such fears all the time. Fear -- of the "Other" -- promoted by the state, in US international space it becomes paranoid in regulatory behavior and random searches of people, with little food available to the average person (as there are only fast food outlets against super-expensive clubs behind black-glass walls). Such until such time as we begin to identify and see ourselves in one another and provide for one another: how about ...
But we can cut down.
This would protect our right to life, our liberty and yes our pursuits of happiness.
The link will take you to the life of Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015)