Words: Rosario Ferré

I write because I am poorly adjusted to reality; because the deep disillusionment within me has given rise to a need to re-create life, to replace it with a more compassionate, tolerable reality. I carry within me a utopian person, a utopian world.

— from the essay The Writer’s Kitchen, Feminist Studies 12, no. 2 (Summer 1986), translated from the Spanish by Diana L. Velez

A minute ago, self decided to google Ferré and learned she had passed away, 18 February 2016. She was 77.

Noooooooo!

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The View Across the Street From the Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino, 21 April 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog writers. Stay tuned.

Maureen Dowd: Ivanka and Vodka, on the Rocks

“Donald Trump is the meanest man I have ever met.”

— former top Trump administration official, quoted by Maureen Dowd

So happy to be reading Maureen Dowd again. It’s been too long. In her piece in the Sunday, 24 June 2018 New York Times, she dissects the First Daughter.

It turns out Ivanka really does just want to please Daddy, which reflects the panic she felt when Trump left Ivanka’s mother for Marla Maples. Ivanka “called him constantly.”

When she became a model, her father “suggested to friends that breast implants might help her along. One friend recalled getting a frantic call from Maryanne Trump, Donald’s sister, urging him to talk Donald out of letting her get plastic surgery that young. It’ll ruin her, she said into the phone. When his friend confronted him about it, he denied that she was getting implants. At the end of the call, he asked, Why not, though?”

The poor girl. The poor, poor girl. She’s mastered the art of being Trump’s daughter so well, and now she’s nothing but a prop. A prop who can’t think on her own.

This prop is having a hard time controlling “the ultimate wild child. An authentic jerk trumps an inauthentic brand ambassador.”

Trump is “the all-consuming maw . . . an infinite pit of need,” according to Emily Fox, author of the just published Born Trump. He’s “a time-sucking vampire who fed off those around him to sustain his own vanity.”

“Nobody,” writes Dowd, “is buying her blond savior routine any more.” Rest assured, however, that she has inherited her father’s “preternatural ability to self-promote.” She can still make money, just not from touting her association with Daddy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

So Ironic, on So Many Levels

Self decided to throw out all her New Yorkers that are older than 2017.

She had them as far back as 2011, there were stacks and stacks of them all over the place. Who was she kidding? She’d be dead before she got to read through all the piles.

Now, she pulls out the 3 April 2017 issue and reads a piece written by Andrew Marantz for the Talk of the Town:

  • A few years ago, after he starred in Transformers, the actor Shia LaBeouf seemed poised to become the next Johnny Depp; instead, he started behaving more like the next James Franco.

Despite that opening sentence, the piece is not really about Shia. It’s about 4-chan trolls, the “men whose main goal is to be the chaos they wish to see in the world,” who “turned Pepe the Frog, once a benign cartoon, into a neo-Nazi icon.”

They infiltrated one of Shia’s performance art events. The actor confronted them “and got arrested.” The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, which was sponsoring the live event, “cancelled the project.”

The actor was undeterred and decided to continue his live stream from another venue, moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The trolls found him.

So Shia LaBeouf was actually one of the first people to tangle with the trolls and he showed plenty of gumption. He moved his project to Greenville, Tennessee. The trolls found him there, too. He moved to Liverpool, England, and the day after he resumed his live streaming project, “British trolls” found him and “the live stream went dark.”

They targeted the actor, and no one stood up for him. Not then. In the end, he simply ran out of energy (or money).

Who would have thought it would be Shia to become an early target. What this piece shows is that, even for someone with gumption and determination and resourcefulness, it is difficult to endure this kind of intense, organized hatred. Self is sure Shia was taken aback. As self was taken aback recently when someone on Facebook posted that the Red Hen owners had been visited by the Secret Service. She went over to yelp and saw that the restaurant’s reviews had been hijacked by hundreds of tweets bearing the Nazi swastika. Using the same tactics they used to call David Hogg, a Parkland school shooting survivor, a Nazi, these trolls were now calling the Red Hen owners Nazis.

And today someone in the GOP had the nerve to put out a hashtag called ‘civility’? Seriously? Our communities are under attack, our kids are under attack, and they want us to be ‘civil’? Trevor Noah was right: the way to deal with a lying, self-proclaimed martyr like Sarah Huckabee Sanders is to present her with an empty plate and say, there’s your order. She’d say, there’s nothing on this plate. The comeback would be to feign total shock and amazement and insist: There is. You’re just too simple to see it.

Because, no joke, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is on tape saying, “Let me try putting it into simple sentences, which is apparently all you can understand.”

A White House spokesperson actually said this to the White House press corps. And, maybe they were too shocked or something, because not one reporter took her to task for this insult. They just let it go.

It would be wonderful if, at the next White House Press Briefing, none of the press showed up. Sarah Huckabee Sanders would be left talking to an empty room. Let’s see what she does then.

She tweeted after she was turned away by the Lexington, VA restaurant, using her official (i.e. White House) twitter account.

There is not one single professional public servant in the current administration. They all assume a personal slight is a matter of national security. Oh please.

Let’s be clear: Sarah Huckabee Sanders earns 165k a year. And she resorts to Twitter knowing full well that trolls will descend and overwhelm the restaurant. She knew it would happen, and she used her official Twitter account. Is this not a horrible, horrible mis-use of public (official) twitter accounts? Yet Huckabee Sanders did it, which shows her vindictiveness and pettiness and meanness.

The President sends out tweets at 3 a.m. and rains insults on everyone. Is this not also a mis-use of a public (official) twitter account? Where is the respect for the office? No, Donald et. al. These accounts are not simply for your personal use. Your tweets may be entertaining but surely the American people have better things to worry about than your feelings of rejection.

Stay tuned.

The Writer’s Kitchen: How To Let Yourself Fall From the Frying Pan Into the Fire, by Rosario Ferré

Translated by Diana L. Velez

Feminist Studies 12, no. 2 (Summer 1986)

Throughout time, women narrators have written for many reasons: Emily Bronte wrote to confirm the revolutionary nature of passion; Virginia Woolf wrote to exorcise her terror of madness and death; Joan Didion writes to discover what and how she thinks; Clarice Lispector discovered in her writing a reason to love and be loved. In my case, writing is simultaneously a constructive and a destructive urge, a possibility for growth  and change. I write to build myself word by word, to banish my terror of silence; I write as a speaking, human mask. With respect to words, I have much for which to be grateful. Words have allowed me to forge for myself a unique identity, one which owes its existence only to my own efforts. For this reason, I place more trust in the words I use than perhaps I ever did in my natural mother. When all else fails, when life becomes an absurd theater, I know the words are there, ready to return my confidence to me.

Recommended Reading: The New Yorker, “Battle Scars,” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells (4 December 2017)

Self hangs on to New Yorker issues she intends to re-read. Today, she’s re-reading Benjamin Wallace-Wells’ piece on Confederate monuments in Virginia.

This article is about crucial history:

  • In 1890, the city of Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, installed a sixty-two-foot statue of Lee, the first of five statues that anchor Monument Avenue. When the statue of Lee was delivered, more than ten thousand citizens lined the streets to help pull it into place.

And also has this harrowing sentence:

  • In June, 2015, Dylann Roof, a twenty-one-year-old who had immersed himself in white-supremacist ideology, joined a Bible-study group in the basement of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina and, in the midst of the discussion, rose from his chair and massacred nine black congregants.

And this about General Lee:

  • In 1866, a man named Wesley Norris had described Lee’s reaction to an attempted escape: “Not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine.”

And all this bitter history culminates in Charlottesville:

  • The liberal faction that had coalesced at the hearings of the monuments commission had, in a sense, been proved right: it had said that the monuments were symbols of white supremacy, and now white supremacists were coming to town to defend them.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Writing on the Wall: San Francisco Chronicle, 16 May 2018

Editorial, p. A9:

The Trump Administration has exported its politics of provocation to the last place that needs it, the Middle East. The all-too predictable immediate result has been carnage. The long-term consequences are likely to be worse.

Like President Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement last week, his relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday stoked tensions and emboldened hardliners on all sides. They include those who urged protesters to storm a border fence in Hamas-ruled Gaza, about 40 miles from the wilfully oblivious celebration of the new embassy. Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas and gunfire, leaving at least 60 dead and 2,000 wounded.

The disputed status of Jerusalem, in light of its religious and political importance to Jews and Palestinians alike, has long been regarded as one of a few key controversies to be resolved by peace talks. Trump’s recognition of the holy city as Israel’s capital would be a monumental concession to one side if anything had been gained or even asked in return. As effected, it was just a gift Trump bestowed on his evangelical political base, and by extension himself, at the expense of lives, American standing and prospects for peace.

Whether Trump takes the need for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations seriously might be guessed from his decision to entrust the job to his callow son-in-law, Jared Kushner, along with a laughable litany of other assignments for which he has no obvious qualifications.

The Amber Spyglass (Pause for Now)

NO SPOILERS FOR THE AMBER SPYLGASS, PROMISE!

p. 248, just halfway. But self was immersed in a wonderful piece of Amber Spyglass fan fiction (and there are very few of those. At least, when compared to Hunger Games. There are six times as many Hunger Games fan fics than there are Amber Spyglass fan fics — of any ship.) Anyhoo, self was enjoying the fan fic hugely until she landed on a chapter where the writer quotes the end of The Amber Spyglass. And — self knows the end already because Twitter is an undisciplined space. But she didn’t expect it to go down like that. It was so awful. Seeing as how she found the ending of The Subtle Knife excruciating, she knew she wasn’t strong enough for the end of The Amber Spyglass. Exhibit A: She put off reading the last 50 pages of The Hunger Games for two years, until the movies started coming out, because she was so sure Peeta would die. But then a niece looked self straight in the eyes and said, “Peeta makes it.”

Oh. He DOES?

Screech!

Self returned home, read the last 50 pages of The Hunger Games, went to the local bookstore, bought Catching Fire and Mockingjay, and binge-read.

So, alas, farewell for now, His Dark Materials, and on to . . .  Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which has zero angst.

The edition self checked out of the Redwood City Library has a neat little intro — Stevenson’s essay, “My First Book.” She’s actually been dipping into it off and on, the past few days. Here’s an excerpt:

I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and find it hard to believe. The names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses of the roads and rivers, the prehistoric footsteps of man, still distinctly traceable up hill and down dale, the mills and the ruins, the ponds and the ferries, perhaps the Standing Stone or the Druidic Circle on the heath; here is an inexhaustible fund of interest for any man with eyes to see or twopence worth of imagination to understand with!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amreading The New Yorker, 26 March 2018: “California v. Trump”

In March, the Donald toured the border wall, and the Attorney General flew to places like Las Cruces, New Mexico. Thank God for Jerry Brown.

Addressing the U.S. Attorney General, Brown said: “I’ll cooperate, Jeff, if you can get off this current maneuver you’re on, because it’s unbecoming.”

“California v. Trump”, by Connie Bruck

Early this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared war on the State of California. At least that’s the way many opponents of the Trump’s Administration saw it. Speaking to the California Peace Officers Association in Sacramento, Sessions announced that the Department of Justice was suing the state for passing three laws to protect undocumented immigrants — measures, Sessions said, that “intentionally obstruct the work of our sworn immigation-enforcement officers.”

Earlier, self had watched the AG on TV make a rhetorical device of “How dare you?” and finish up with, “California, we are coming to get you.”

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While 45 seems lost in his own alternate reality of The Apprentice (“You’re fired” seems to be his favorite slogan), Sessions is lost in his own version of a western, where the Good Guys (Whites, self presumes) battle it out with Bad Guys (Native Americans, self presumes — aka, Non-Whites). The “coming to get you” had her rolling on the floor, because Sessions in person is rather petite in stature. And moreover, has elf ears. The idea of him as a gunslinger is patently ridiculous. But, it must have been an image dear to his heart, his own private childhood fantasy. And now he gets to act it out! On behalf of a President who likes talking loud and waving a big stick! As if the whole country — nay, the whole world — could be reduced to black and white! Or, if you prefer, white and white!

It’s a ridiculous performance.

Some weeks ago, Brown hit back with a tweet of his own:

Thanks for the shout-out, @realDonaldTrump. But bridges are still better than walls. And California remains the 6th largest economy in the world and the most prosperous state in America. #Facts

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Why Is This Happening To Us? Conservatives Call the Parkland Survivors “Hitler Youth”

Here is one explanation, which self found in a back issue of The New Yorker.

It was the lead essay in Talk of the Town: The New Yorker, 28 August 2017

“The Divider”

. . .  speeding toward yet another airport last November (2016), Obama seemed like a weary man who harbored a burning seed of apprehension. “We’ve seen this coming,” he said. “Donald Trump is not an outlier; he is a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Party for the past ten, fifteen, twenty years . . . “

For half a century, in fact, the leaders of the GOP have fanned the lingering embers of racial resentment in the United States. Through shrewd political calculation and rhetoric, from Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy” to the latest charges of voter fraud in majority African-American districts, doing so has paid off at the ballot box.

And make no mistake, Trump is planning to do it again in 2020 — he’s planning to call upon that mass base of Americans who turned Charlottesville, Virginia into such a spectacle. And the only ones, it seems, who can stop him are . . . Parkland Survivors.

As I’ve told anyone who will listen: The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High are people who had eight years with Obama. They know what a good president is. Thank God.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“Worlds of Decay, Renewal Merge Unexpectedly”: Elegy for a City, San Francisco

  • Like a lot of people, I have mixed feelings about a walk in the city these days. The Sunday before, my companion and I had walked the streets of Washington, D.C. and marveled at how clean they were. On returning back home, it was clear how much of San Francisco was a mess, particularly downtown with its crowds of lost souls roaming filthy streets. — from Carl Nolte’s column, Native Son, in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, 18 March 2018

Don’t ever try to walk (alone) from the Asian Art Museum to Powell. Don’t. Even if it’s broad daylight, you will be accosted by xxx panhandlers, and some will be quite aggressive. Just saying. That stretch of San Francisco feels like Detroit. Or like a Third World city. The decay is absolutely heartbreaking.

Self tried it once, last year. Every few steps, someone said something to her. Like running a gauntlet. Don’t reach for your wallet, don’t hesitate. Keep your earbuds in place. Keep walking.

If that’s what it’s like in the daytime, can you imagine what it’s like at night? Downtown San Francisco is not a woman-friendly city.

(And on the streets, there are Teslas. And Jaguars)

Stay tuned.

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