Oct 07 2011
Once again, your Bloguero notes that it is Columbus Day Weekend. Your Bloguero often takes ten days off at this time. Why? Funny you should ask. Your Bloguero has short answers: it’s his Birthday. Your Bloguero was born exactly 399 years after the christening of Cervantes in 1547. Also, it’s a weekend he takes off to help facilitate a Shamanic Men’s Retreat. This year will be the second wonderful year of that gathering. And finally, your Bloguero cannot abide the celebration of Columbus Day, which he sees as the beginning of the subjugation of this hemisphere. The last is best expressed in this 2008 post:
The Church In Baracoa, Cuba
Across the Caribbean from desde Desdemona is Baracoa, a small town inaccessible by land from before 1500 (when Columbus first landed there in 1492) until the 1960’s. In 1512 Baracoa was the first Spanish settlement in Cuba. It’s like Macondo. The lush forest of the Sierra Maestre and El Yunque, the tallest peak in Cuba, tower over the town. The town is nestled against the warm ocean. North of town is Maguana, a beautiful, white beach, shared by tourists and occasional foraging pigs.
Join me in Baracoa. We can celebrate Not Columbus Day together.
In the church in Baracoa is a part of one of the original crosses that Columbus planted in Cuba when he first landed there. It’s not under guard. To see it, you knock on the back door of the church. Nobody there? Go across the street, as Bardo did, to find someone in the Parochio to let you in. Bardo goes and asks to see El Cruz. The woman behind a counter says ok, let us find the key. She takes Bardo across the street, opens the back door, enters the silent, dark church, and in the nave there it is, in a glass case with no security at all, El Cruz de la Parra . The cross’s 500 year old wood (it’s been carbon dated) is held up by a metal holder (which is from much later on).
In many ways this is the most important relic, and maybe the most important marker in the history of the Western Hemisphere. It represents the beginning, the zero mile marker on the highway from then to now. If Columbus, instead of planting a cross and taking on the conquest and/or conversion of indigenous people, had said, “This place is really great so let’s hang out here and enjoy it with the locals,” the last 500 years would have been significantly, inconceivably different. And maybe, Bardo reminds us, a whole lot better. Bardo cannot believe what he’s looking at. He makes a small donation to the church, and wanders off into the heat of the day. The woman closes up the church. Nobody else is waiting to see the cross.
If the Cruz were in New York or Madrid, it would have laser Mission Impossible security, armed guards, and lots of publicity around it. Lines of buses of tourists. Souvenir shops. Air conditioning. T-shirt sales. But there’s none of that in Baracoa. Just the cross and the empty church in the middle of Baracoa.
Bardo buys a bottle of Habana Club rum ($3.25), sits on the roof of the Casa Particular where he’s staying, and wonders if Macondo could be any more beautiful. He decides Baracoa is perfect and beautiful. He loves the way the mountainous jungle cascades to the town at the edge of the ocean. Columbus, he thinks, was right about one thing: Baracoa is one of the most beautiful places Bardo has ever seen. About everything else, he decides, he’s with Alejo Carpentier, Columbus was dead wrong.
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. Your Bloguero regrets that this week because two of his recent posts, one from this week and one from last week, are among the best he has written. Regardless, please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or click the “Encouragement Jar” if there is one. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.
cross posted from The Dream Antilles
Sep 30 2011
Your Bloguero, as you may have already noticed, is a complete optimist. He actually believes along with Dr. King that things bend toward justice. Eventually. And this drives your Bloguero to be extremely persistent. He wants to do some serious bending. You might even think of him as obsessed. And nothing drives your Bloguero more than the plight of those who are always screwed. There are a number of subtopics to this, ways that this happens, but somehow for your Bloguero it always eventually comes down to state killing, the death penalty. State killing is always a huge thorn in your Bloguero.
Your Bloguero has been railing against the death penalty for decades. He’s successfully defended people charged with capital crimes. And he’s been aggravated by and writing about state killing for a while. In 2002, when there were too many recipients to keep track of, he moved the informal anti-death penalty emails he wrote to a list serve, Yahoo groups. Your Bloguero started writing those emails in 1999 or 2000. Maybe it was earlier. The initial response from some recipients, including family members, was instructive. “How,” some wrote, “Can you get involved in this horror and care about these worthless scum. Don’t send me any more of this [expletive deleted].” OK. Your Bloguero struck their names from the address block and forged on. “You have compassion for these horrible people. You should have more for those around you.” OK. Strike the name and move on. Etc. Repeat and repeat again. The complaints were legion. Your Bloguero, however, knows how to use a delete button, and he did. Frequently.
When your Bloguero started the Dream Antilles more than six years ago, his initial intention was to promote his 2005 novel, The Dream Antilles. That didn’t last long. Your Bloguero does not stay on topic well, especially when the topic is commercial. Your Bloguero doesn’t care very much for commerce. Soon the plight of those who are always screwed became unavoidable. Of course. How could it not? Yes, it was always present in the literature from Latin America your Bloguero loves to write about, but then the Blog swerved headlong into politics. And of course, as soon as it swerved, along came all of your Bloguero’s many arguments about state killing. Does the Dream Antilles now have more politics than literature? Who knows? Your Bloguero is not the best curator if the goal is to maintain balance. Yes, your Bloguero wishes there were more about books. More about Paco Ignacio Taibo II. More about Skarmeta. More about Cortazar. Martin Solares. The list of authors is enormous. And there could be more about that if the states would just moderate the rate at which they were executing people.
When your Bloguero didn’t feel that there was enough readership at The Dream Antilles, he cross posted at other Blogs, especially bigger group ones. There, particularly at the Orange Blog that shall not be named, your Bloguero was surprised. There he encountered more people who wrote to provoke your Bloguero and assert that they had no problem with state killing. Worse, there were some who were actually in favor of it and argued that it was just. These comments, which your Bloguero generally perceived as the menacing handwork of paid trolls or [expletives deleted] agents provocateurs, who needed to get a life, were always annoying. But your Bloguero knows how to ignore them, and ignore them he did. Your Bloguero tries not to feed their anger. Or their wallets.
Fast forward to killing Troy Davis. And this week, the echoes continue at the Dream Antilles, even as they fade to quiet in the Trad Media.
The Banality Of Death takes note of Florida’s killing of Manuel Valle on Wednesday. Valle was killed for a crime more than 30 years ago. He was 61. The execution was barely noticed. It was the fourth execution of the week. Your Bloguero believes this is one of the best pieces he has written in a while.
The Shame Of State Killing tells the story of the 1944 execution in Georgia of 5’1″ 95 pound George Stinney, Jr., who was then 14 years old. Stinney is the youngest person executed in the US in recent history. It is a story of state killing at its most barbaric. One wonders whether the US has evolved beyond that.
Banned Books Week noted the ALA’s annual celebration of the First Amendment and provided a list of “challenged” and “banned” books. Your Bloguero wishes he found it hard to believe that book banning continues in the US.
About That Disaster Aid shows the destruction of a roadway in Greene County, New York near where your Bloguero finds himself and inquires what it will take for Congress to get up some money so that there can be repairs and disaster aid.
Please Sign This Petition promoted a badly written, weakly conceived petition on the White House Web site to ban state killing. Yes, it was badly written. Your Bloguero doesn’t care.
The Back B minor Mass showed up at the Dream Antilles. What a great performance. Go ahead, click it. You’ll be happy you did.
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or click the “Encouragement Jar” if there is one. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.
Sep 23 2011
A week of horrors, death and killing. The death of Troy Davis. The evaporation of the illusion that justice would somehow be served in his case. The negation of hope for mercy and compassion and life for Troy Davis. A killing in our names we were unable to stop. We could not, did not spare Troy Davis. We killed him. And we killed a part of ourselves.
We have lost our way. And we have broken ourselves apart. We believe in the illusion that we are all separate, that we are fragmented. We don’t see ourselves as every bit of the entire phenomenon. But we are all of it. Every single bit of it. We are all of it: we are the failed rescuers, we are the victims (Officer McPhail and Troy Davis and their families and friends the homeless man who was shot), and most importantly we are the executioners (wearing a black hood or shooting Officer McPhail or denying the stay). Inside each of us is all of them. Inside us is the person who killed Officer McPhail. And Officer McPhail. And Troy Davis. And those who killed him. And those who judged him. And those who advocated for him. And all of the families of all of these people. All of them is inside us. A huge loud, bloody cacophony. We truly are Troy Davis. And we also are Officer McPhail. And Justice Scalia. And every single person touched this week by this killing, especially those we most blame for this execution.
But we deny it. We cannot accept it. We cannot allow it to recognized inside us, in our hearts, our minds, our souls (if we have them). It is unacceptable to be all of this. It is denied. We consign all of this ugliness to our Shadow. To the unseen. To the denied. To the disowned. To the unacceptable. We can’t see it in us, but everybody else can.
We are oh so dangerous like this. We are blinded like this. We cannot love anything or anyone like this. In our panic to deny and disown all of this and our dread of our own painful, complicated human ugliness, we are filled with fear. We deny it. And we lash out. And we kill. We kill it outside of us, because we cannot countenance its existence inside each and every one of us. We kill outside because we cannot love what is inside.
This has to stop. We are dreaded Angulimala, with his chain of fingers around his neck, whom the Buddha himself told to stop. But we are also the Buddha. We need to abolish the death penalty, and we need to accept, in fact love the parts of us that are so invisible, so unacceptable, so horrible. These parts and our efforts to ignore them are driving us crazy. And they are making us kill. We need to stop ourselves.
In Troy Davis’s memory, we need to commit once and for all to ending State Killing. For everyone. And part of that commitment, if we are to succeed, has to be to healing this enormous fissure inside us.
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is not actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or click the “Encouragement Jar” if there is one. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.
Sep 22 2011
As I write this, the Georgia authorities are killing Troy Davis. He was let down by the “justice” system. And the Supreme Court. And by those of us who are horrified when the state kills innocent people. There is nothing more to do or say. He is being killed. Please join me in 24 hours of silence in honor of his memory.
Sep 21 2011
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Troy Davis’s request for clemency. It appears that Georgia will kill him by lethal injection at 7 pm ET on September 21, 2011. And it appears that execution cannot be stopped.
From Ben Jeanlous at the NAACP an eloquent, moving request that we fast tomorrow evening and mark the time of Troy Davis’s execution:
Sep 20 2011
The Georgia Pardon and Parole Board has DENIED clemency to Troy Davis. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:
The state Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday has denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis after hearing pleas for mercy from Davis’ family and calls for his execution by surviving relatives of a murdered Savannah police officer.
Davis’ case has already taken more unexpected turns than just about any death-penalty case in Georgia history and his innocence claims have attracted international attention. Its resolution was postponed once again when the parole board late Monday announced it would not be making an immediate decision as to whether Davis should live or die.
Davis, 42, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson.
I doubt there are other legal steps that can stop the state from killing Troy Davis.
My heart goes out to Troy Davis and his family, and also to the McPhail family. They all deserve better.
Sep 17 2011
On September 21, 2011, the State of Georgia plans to kill Troy Davis by lethal injection. Again. This is the fourth time the State of Georgia has scheduled Davis for death. In 2007 he was spared with less than 24 hours notice. In September 2008, the hearse was waiting at the door and he was less than two hours away from the gurney. A month later the execution was halted three days before execution. And now, the rollercoaster from hope to despair has come to September 21, 2011.
Troy Davis’s conviction stems from the 1989 death of a Savannah police officer, Mark Allen McPhail. The rollercoaster, for Troy Davis and his family and for the family of the officer, has been lurching back and forth for 22 years. And with each year, doubt about the conviction has grown as witnesses have recanted and as jurors speak their unresolved doubts. Lurking in the background is alarming possibility that the wrong man is waiting for the needle and that the real murderer has escaped.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:
With only days before his scheduled execution, an effort to spare convicted killer Troy Davis is gathering thousands in rallies, vigils and other last-minute events from Atlanta to Peru to Berlin.
Citing doubts about his guilt, national leaders of the NAACP and Amnesty International led hundreds in a protest Friday against executing the man a Georgia jury said killed a Savannah police officer in 1989. Amnesty International declared a Global Day of Solidarity for Troy Davis, with 300 events across the United States and the globe, including in New York, Washington D.C., San Diego, Paris and Oslo.
Former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu are among those calling for his execution to be halted. And this week, Davis supporters presented 663,000 petitions to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles asking for his life to be spared.
Troy Davis has one last chance to ask for leniency. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, which has the sole authority in Georgia to commute death sentences, will meet Monday to consider Davis’s case.
That means that this weekend is the last opportunity to sign a petition and to stand with more than 600,000 others for sparing Troy Davis.
The petition is here.
An excellent first person view is here (h/t OPOL).
cross-posted from The Dream Antilles
Sep 16 2011
On September 21, 2011, the State of Georgia plans to kill Troy Davis by lethal injection. If it happens, this execution will not be an unusual event. In Texas this year there have already been ten executions. In the United States this year there have been thirty-three executions. In fact, there have been some days in 2011 when there were two executions. But in general most, if not all of these killings have gone unnoticed. It’s as if someone had pressed the mute button, so we could not hear the anguish or see the tears, so we could not see what was being done in our names.
There were two executions planned in Texas this week. On September 13, 2011, Texas killed Steven Woods for 2001 a double murder. And on September 15, 2011, it took the US Supreme Court’s last minute stay to stop the planned killing of Duane Buck. Buck got some deserved attention because his death sentence included egregious “expert” testimony that Black people are more dangerous than whites. But in general, state killing goes on largely unnoticed. And without noticeable scrutiny. Or opposition.
Troy Davis is an exception to the silence and what appears to be acquiescence to state killing. Thank goodness. And that may be because Troy Davis is likely innocent. The case against him has disintegrated since his trial. It has fallen apart as witnesses recanted their testimony and explained the police coercion in interrogations that made them perjured themselves at his trial. Troy Davis appears to be innocent, a circumstances that Justice Scalia has opined in this very case is of no constitutional significance. Despite all of this Georgia relentlessly pursues killing him. So Troy Davis has managed to attract attention, which he completely deserves, and has elicited remarkable and justified eloquence in his defense. I wish others who have faced execution had received similar support, but I can understand completely why they have not. And I am pleased that the execution of Troy Davis has evoked such strong opposition.
I have twice before written about Georgia’s desire to kill Troy Davis, on July 7, 2006 and onAugust 9, 2009, and here I am again more than five years later saying the same thing, trying to ask you to ask the State of Georgia to spare the same man, Troy Davis. I won’t repeat all the reasons.
Troy Davis should be spared.
Alll I can do now is urge you, dear reader, to join the 663,000 people who have already signed a petition to go to spare Troy Davis by signing the NAACP petition and by taking the additional recommended steps to spare Troy Davis.
And also, please, whatever may happen to Troy Davis, please recognize that there are going to be more Troy Davises, recognized or not, as long as the United States has the death penalty. The only way to prevent that is abolition of state killing. Let’s spare Troy Davis. And let’s also stop state killing.
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is preemptede and is not actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment or click the “encouragement jar” so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.
Sep 09 2011
Today, September 9, should be a National Holiday. Your Bloguero is well aware that it isn’t. Not yet. And your Bloguero also knows that you, dear reader, don’t yet know why today should be a NH. Your Bloguero will explain. Eventually. Your Bloguero knows that some day justice will be served and today will be celebrated as a NH. After all, today is Otis Redding’s birthday. Had he not died at age 26 (in 1967) there is no question whatsoever that he would have been recognized as the absolute King of Soul Music. The pinnacle. The apex. The zenith. And that his birthday would, of course, have to be a NH. At least among people with ears and souls.
Why all this raving? You need to listen to Otis Redding. And if you listen to only one song all the way through, let it be this one. In your Bloguero’s judgment, this 1968 recording is among Otis Redding’s most remarkable recordings:
No, it doesn’t have an exciting video with it. That’s because it’s pre-MTV, pre-Youtube. It’s a 53 year old recording, though you won’t believe that if you listen to it.
One of the joys of being your Bloguero is playing songs as wonderful as this. In fact, playing it over and over again is rewarding, too. It becomes a kind of mental floss that caresses the heart while it sweeps out all of the contamination and toxicity of the past week. Cataloguing the past week’s bumper crop of awfulness is something your Bloguero will eschew. Suffice it to say that replacing all of that with this song is a step in the right direction, a step toward hope.
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is not actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or click the Encouragement Jar. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.
cross posted from The Dream Antilles
Sep 02 2011
It’s called the Dream Antilles, emphasis on dream. Here’s one now coming in from left field:
My fellow Americans. And especially those of you who are unemployed. I have called you to come together today, Labor Day 2011, 61,000 strong to Soldier Field in Chicago, so that I, your president, could explain to you how I am going to get you back to work and how I am going to re-start the economy. And to ask humbly for your support in pressuring Congress to enact these essential proposals that I will shortly lay out. I was going to tell all of this to Congress. But I see no reason, in light of Congress’s penchant for obstruction and delay and partisan politics, to talk further with Congress about my plan. No. I want to talk to you. Because you are the people that matter. And you will help me to increase employment.
I’m sure you understand that Congress is obdurate. That Congress plays politics with your lives on a regular basis. And that some of its members are nothing but stooges for the multinational corporations that financed their election. But that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that you don’t have work. That you are unemployed. That you and your families are suffering hard times. And I want to put you back to work. Immediately. Without further delay.
I have a good plan that will put you back to work. I am going to describe it in detail this evening. But we all need to understand that to pass this bill in this most obstructionist Congress, I will need your active help. I will need you to stand up for this proposal. I will need you to be active, to make calls, to send emails, to write letters, to demonstrate, to picket, to speak out. I am asking you, if you agree with the proposal , to do these things and more to tell Congress clearly and explicitly that you demand that this proposal be enacted. And that the consequences of failure to enact these proposals are quite simple: those who block it will be replaced in Congress by legislators who understand the plight of the unemployed and who will enact measures to create employment. It’s that simple. Vote for the proposal, or go home.
My plan is unspeakably simple. It is a broad stimulus package, far larger than the previous bipartisan stimulus package, that will make America’s economy run again and will without any question greatly increase employment. My detractors in the media, and those who sit across the isle in Congress, and even some of those in my own party, and all those who seem to delight in ignoring your misery, will roll their eyes and rent their clothing because these measures will briefly increase the deficit. These measures will definitely increae the deficit in the short term.
But I tell you, and those who undertand economics will tell you that this increase in the deficit simply does not matter. At all. And those who argue that it is a problem will be enacting their ideology. But they will only demonstrate beyond all question that they do not understand macroeconomics at all and that they are simply pawns of those who would continue to siphon economic wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthiest 1% of our population, and continue unemployment at ridiculously high levels, and deny you the dignity of earning a respectable living.
I will not allow them to paralyze our economy further with their partisan, ideological nonsense. I will not allow them to increase the suffering of workers further by refusing to enact measures that will spur employment. I will not allow them to block the taking of necessary, short term steps to re-start the economy and provide employment.
America’s problem is not its debt. It is not its deficit. It has never been its problem. America has always paid its debt and it always will. America’s problem is simply this: creating jobs. And there is absolutely no way to create jobs without increasing government spending. We know this because we’ve tried everything else. We’ve tried tax cuts and created more misery and it hasn’t created a single job. The Federal Reserve has already done all it can with monetary policy. It hasn’t been able to spur employment. So. Fiscal policy is the only device left that can spur employment.
When we create jobs, when we get the economy running again, the deficit will heal itself. Because tax revenues will be increased, because more people will be working and more people will be paying taxes.
Most important, this is not a time to contract government spending by cutting programs. The contrary is required: we need to spur employment by increasing government spending. In short, those who insist on balancing the budget, on decreasing the deficit, on cutting spending have a fundamental misunderstanding of macroeconomics. And I am not going to permit their willful ignorance of economics further to destroy the nation’s economy….
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is not actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.
Aug 26 2011
An Offering to Chaac And Kukulkan
Chaac is the ancient Maya god of rain and lightning. He is usually depicted with a serpentine axe (lightning) in his hand. His body is scaled and reptilian. He is worshipped at sacred wells and cenotes. He is in charge of life-giving rain needed for agriculture. At the dawn of time Chaac split apart a sacred stone with his axe, from which sprung the first ear of maize. When he is not in the clouds, he is near falling waters.
Kukulkan at Chichen Itza
Kukulkan is the ancient Mayan feathered serpent and represents both the Earth’s wish to ascend to the sky and sky’s descending to Earth. Through Kukulkan chaos becomes order. Kukulkan represents the merging of opposites and the end to dualism.
As I post this, the map of Hurricane Irene seems to have announced the storm’s arrival on the East Coast of the US, between North Carolina and Massachusetts some time this weekend. This is what the computer models are saying:
And so right now an offering (I recommend burning copal and/or sage and/or palo santo or a candle or a fire), a petition, a propitiatory prayer seems especially in order, an offering to Chaac, who controls the rain, and Kukulkan, who creates order from chaos, for the safety of all people in the Eastern United States:
May Chaac and Kukulkan exercise restraint. May all be safe. May all find shelter. May destruction be averted. May peace prevail. May the rains be moderate. May the wind be temperate. May divine tranquility be preserved. Let it be so!
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is not actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment, or click the “encouragement jar” so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Your Bloguero thanks you for visiting.
cross-posted from The Dream Antilles
Aug 19 2011
Elmore James (1918-1963). A Bluesman and poet whose work your Bloguero admires. It’s work that holds up extraordinarily well after 50 years.
But, Sr. Bloguero, with all due respect, you might ask, what’s Elmore James got to do with this, which is supposed to be your weekly digest? Your Bloguero could answer this with an elaborate, very contorted, ontological exploration of the theretical connections between the Blues and Haiku, between Elmore James and Basho. But, no. It’s not an intellectual exercise. No. It’s just something your Bloguero would like you to hear and enjoy. It’s that simple. Your Bloguero plays it over and over and over again. Then he enjoys thinking about how very good, how very powerful, how eloquent it is. And then he seeks other pieces that are in their own way as powerful. Your Bloguero is quite confident that he knows a few.
What comes immediately to mind is Son House (1902?- 1988) . Sometimes far less is definitely much more:
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is not actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or, even easier, just click the “Encouragement jar”. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.
cross-posted from The Dream Antilles