Florida: Where Lightning Strikes

Self is still digging deep through her pile of stuff, languishing since 2015. Which is why the article about Trump that she reads this morning, in The New York Review of Books (September 2015) is so scary. Because it sounds exactly like right now. And Trump wasn’t even President yet.

If nothing else, the article, written by Michael Tomasky, shows that Trump did not suddenly sneak up on America like a Stealth bomber. His base was quietly building (like the ratings for his show, The Apprentice) for at least a decade.

An excerpt:

Is Trump not the logical culmination of where Republican politics have been headed for many years now, going back to the Clinton and Bush presidencies, but especially during the presidency of Barack Obama? Two qualities more than any others have driven conservatism in our time. The first is cultural and racial resentment, felt by the mostly older and very white population the GOP increasingly represents — resentment against a fast-changing, more openly sexual America, as well as against dark-skinned immigrants, and White House occupants, and gay people and political correctness and the “moocher class” and all the rest. The second is what we might call spectacle — the unrelenting push toward a rhetorical style ever more gladiatorial and ever more outraged (and outrageous), driven initially by talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and now reproduced on websites, podcasts, and Twitter feeds too numerous to mention.

Self thinks that the reason the GOP and conservative pundits lash out at the survivors of the Florida School Shooting is: here are a group of kids challenging them on their turf: the media.

Dinesh D’Souza (who, when last self checked, was an adult, with a bestselling book yet) ridicules the Florida students who broke into tears when Congress refused to revive a bill that would ban assault rifles. Because D’Souza himself is a master manipulator of the media, but it took him decades to get there. And suddenly, almost overnight, the kids are everywhere: on the web, in our news, on television.

Which proves self’s point: In the last few decades, the GOP has become nothing more than a party of shills. Their power is the media, not the implementation of actual policy issues.

And in a party like that, of course the biggest shill of all would win his party’s nomination.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Next on the Reading List: The Romanovs, 1613 – 1918, by Simon Sebag-Montefiore

This book weighs like a brick and, since self always lugs her books around with her, she’s going to have a sore wrist in a few weeks, she just knows it.

It’s about the Romanovs but it might as well be about U.S. politics.

page xxi of the Introduction:

  • In this book, my aim is to follow the invisible, mysterious alchemy of power to answer the essential question of politics, laconically expressed by that maestro of powerplay, Lenin: kto kogo? — who controls whom?

Love the full-color plates. Michael, the first Romanov tsar, looks like a hunchbacked troll. Catherine I used to be a “promiscuous Lithuanian peasant girl.” Peter II “fell ill” on “the day of his planned marriage.” The Empress Anna forced her courtiers “to pretend to be chickens.” And so forth.

Since this is such a behemoth of a book, might take the rest of February and most of March.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Sweet(er) in Redwood City, California

After years of hectic traveling, it is sweet indeed to be back in Redwood City:

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Even sweeter: having The Alienist to look forward to every week.

New episodes air every Monday night on TNT.

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Dakota Fanning is just killing it in the role of Sara Howard, secretary to Teddy Roosevelt. In this incarnation, Roosevelt is the New York City Police Commissioner (circa 1896).

It is also grrrreat to see Brian Geraghty in the cast. Self lost track of him after The Hurt Locker. Geraghty plays Roosevelt! (When self watched Geraghty in The Hurt Locker, all those years ago, she never imagined that the next thing she saw him in would be The Alienist, portraying a future American president)

Also great are Daniel Bruhl (who self hasn’t seen on the big screen since Inglorious Basterds) and Luke Evans (who self has seen in the Lord of the Rings movies and in Immortals)

Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: HILLBILLY ELEGY

p. 177: “. . .  whenever people ask me what I’d most like to change about the white working class, I say, ‘The feeling that our choices don’t matter.’ “

Admiral George Dewey, 1 May 1898

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Admiral George Dewey defeated an outdated and woefully under-equipped Spanish fleet at the Battle of Manila Bay, 1 May 1898

“Don Alfredo and Jose Rizal” in Sou’wester, Spring 2007:

  • As Jose Rizal was lined up before the Spanish firing squad, labeled renegade and underground solidarity worker, George Dewey entered Manila Bay.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: Manuel D. Duldulao

  • The greatest link . . .  to the Spanish past is Intramuros. For almost 400 years until its destruction, Intramuros was Manila.

The Filipinos, Portrait of a People, by Manuel D. Duldulao

Novel-In-Progress ‘Blue Water, Distant Shores’ Started As a Short Story

An excerpt from the short story (which self is thinking of sending out, after so many years): Apologies, she may have posted this excerpt several weeks or even several months ago. She’s adding a further paragraph.

What’s interesting is, the name of the main character never changed. It was always, and still is, Matias (and she personally knows not a single person with that name). It always amazes her when she finds this story again: because the cadence! She pulled it from the bottom of a pile of stuff, just a few minutes ago.

Matias had no recollection of going back to bed but when he next opened his eyes it was daylight. A last fragment of dream slipped from his consciousness. He sat up, feeling bereft.

He stayed with the Bishop for almost a week, receiving his instructions. It was May; the heat was at its greatest. At night, a servant shuffled into his room and, from a pole running the length of the low ceiling, lowered folds of gauzy white netting around the bed. He had difficulty sleeping. He spent long nights listening to the faint whine of invisible mosquitoes, just beyond the white gauze. In the morning, the Bishop remarked on the dark circles beneath the young priest’s eyes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

In Progress: Fantasy

“I was on my way to the Citadel,” she said.

I performed an elaborate yawn.

Poetry Saturday: Frederick Seidel

The Bird on the Crocodile’s Back (An Excerpt)

The man can’t stay awake. He falls asleep.
It’s noon, it’s afternoon, repeatedly he falls in deep.
Seated at his desk or in an armchair, as if to try to write a poem meant
A flash flood of sleep and drowning on Parnassus in his tent,
Or something else equally not good.
The guy’s completely gone and sawing wood,
Snoring and snorting — until one snort wakes him —
And where is he? he cant think where he is — which shakes him.

(published in The New York Review of Books, 19 February 2015)

#amreading: Carlos Bulosan, AMERICA IS IN THE HEART

America is in the Heart is about a Filipino migrant worker who lives in the itinerant camps and moves up and down the west coast, following the harvests.

Chapter XXIII:

I tried hard to remain aloof from the destruction and decay around me. I wanted to remain pure within myself. But in Pismo Beach, where I found Mariano, I could not fight anymore. He and I slept on the floor of a small cottege, where two others were living.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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