Tuesday, October 01, 2013

"The Legend of Carmen Amaya" by Natalia Ramos

Here's a link to a poetic tribute by flamenco dancer and writer Natalia Ramos of Madrid. They are dedicated to la flamenca Carmen Amaya on the 50th anniversary of her death.

Stephen Siciliano, highwayscribery's inimitable and anonymous alter ego, translated two of the poems from Spanish to English.

The presentation was published by Alison Mackie, an author and painter whose work amplifies and defines her passion for the Gypsy peoples.

Enjoy

Friday, July 05, 2013

"Ninfas" por Stephen Siciliano





Ninfas
(a mi prima Pilar)

Ella hablaba con su guitarra
pero ésta cantaba otra canción

Levantó su vestido florentino
tocando al agua, descalza
temblando el río en los rizos
de su cabellera.

Tapaba su boca
tan miedosa subiendo la cuesta
por llantos plañideros
y detrás de ellos
ella, galopando

"¡Soccoro, alguien!"


Y llegó la otra
pero ella le huyó
y durmió
y soño con la canción
de la otra
despertó en el alba
y levantando su vestido
hasta el muslo
tocaba, temblando,
el río.

Ronroneó. Y eso sin saber por que.

Le hablaba la canción a su guitarra
y cantaba cuando se
la devolvio en melodía

Y llegó la otra
pero ella le huyó
bajando la cuesta
con su guitarra.

Notándose un silencio
y dudando que le devolviera
más canciónes
y dudando en volver
a dormir de esa manera.


(dibujo de Jóse Pérez de Lama Halcón)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Anne Theroigne: Portrait of a Portrait of a Lady


Sometimes bit players steal the show.

That is not to say the historical figures of Danton, Desmoulins and Robespierre are upstaged by the sparse appearances of Anne Theroigne in Hilary Mantel's
"A Place of Greater Safety: A Novel," but she certainly adds to the conversation.

This post is both about a fascinating person, and about the author's masterful crafting of a secondary book character.

highwayscribery's own novel "Vedette: or Conversations with the Flamenco Shadows,"and posts like "Birthday Card for Tina Modotti," are evidence of an abiding interest in female revolutionaries. No less sanguinary or egalitarian in action and thought, Anne-Josephe Theroigne de Mericourt fits the bill as a subject of interest here.

The goal is not to conflate the scribe's humble effort with an eminence quite so eminent as Mantel (okay, maybe a little), but to assert his rightful place as an admirer and collector of lady iconoclasts.

Not in the girlfriend sense, let us be clear. They are not conducive to a writer's quiet life.

Throughout this expansive novel, Theroigne surfaces, burns and submerges, resurfaces again, lighting the dank torch-lit streets of ragged and unjust Paris...just a few passages, evocative ones, transmit her flavors.

Late Entry

Camille Desmoulins, pamphleteer extraordinaire of the revolutionary cupola, first stumbles upon Anne at a theater audition where she is being humiliated.

It takes place at page 118 of this weighty literary chronicle: "She was about twenty-seven, he thought; small bones darkish brown hair, snub nose. She was pretty enough, but there was something blurred about her features: as though at some time she'd been beaten, hit around the head, had almost recovered, but would never quite."

They exchange barbs before she submits that her future looks bleak. Desmoulins wants to know what she has done in the past when faced with a dry spell between acting stints:

Answer: "I used to sleep with a marquis."

"There you are then."

"'I don't know,' the girl said, 'I get the impression that marquises aren't so free with their money anymore. And me, I'm not so free with my favors.'"

She then establishes herself as a free-ranging woman when divulging her plan to meet contacts in Genoa.

"She put her cheek on her hand. 'My name is Anne Theroigne.' She closed her eyes. 'God, I'm so tired,' she said. She moved thin shoulders inside the shawl, trying to ease the world off her back."

This is an introduction to someone mordant, socially astute, battered, yet unyielding.

She is being marginalized by fading beauty and diminishing artistic talents. Anne Theroigne is afraid and her future actions reveal she thinks the government, or society, or somebody, should do something to arrest her tailspin into the gutter.

(the scribe does not know this for certain, rather has drawn certain conclusions from these first paragraphs written by Hilary Mantel).

This is Theroigne before the revolution. And this is her France.

Once the deluge is unleashed, Desmoulins is out in the street doing what he does best, rousing the rabble. Among them is a "pretty young woman with a pistol in the belt of her riding habit, and her brown hair tied back with a red ribbon and blue one."

These are the colors the ascendant radicals have adopted and she is with them, flowering, purposeful.

Though she may be fading, Anne has been feted by Paris. Has heard a few stories. She has been at the center of the world and lived off making believe she is other, made-up people.

"Her face seemed luminous in the watery light. Now he saw that she was very cold, drenched and shivering. 'The weather has broken,' she said. 'And so much else.'"

The streets are seething and a few hours later she is a portrait of action.

Made for the Part

Underemployed, she certainly has the time. Dramatically gifted, the troubles of 1879 provide her with a proper stage.

"Another night on the streets: at five o'clock, the tocsin and the alarm cannon. 'Now it begins in earnest,' Anne Theroigne said. She pulled the ribbons from her hair, and looped them into the buttonhole of his coat. Red and blue. 'Red for blood,' she said. 'Blue for heaven.' The colors of Paris: blood-heaven."

You can earn respect by cranking out 749 pages of engaging literature, and sometimes, in one brush stroke, give the whole thing a strident coloring that clings.

Blood-heaven.

The highway scribe is not going to pick apart each of the Theroigne-related passages. He is giving you an idea of how the text was read. Your reading would be something else entirely.

Now back to the revolution. In the earliest phases, action draws the highest premium and the new order has jobs for people like Camille and Theroigne. Their gang, a disparate lot of social maladroits and axe-grinders, is somehow on the rise.

Centripetal forces continue to drive politics in France; Paris in particular and apart. Louis and Antoinette's days are numbered. The politics of the moment revolve around what to do with them. The king does try. He receives a delegation of women and makes promises.

"Theroigne is outside, talking to soldiers," Mantel revives her anti-heroine. "She wears a scarlet riding habit. She is in possession of a saber. The rain is spoiling the plumes on her hat."

Anne can dress the part, although there is usually some element gone awry, screwing up the perfection of the whole, gaining empathy.

Laying Low

And then she is gone, though not for long. As chaotic Paris tries to sort itself out -- going to the theater, dining, sexing it up, and carrying the enemy's head around on a pike -- Theroigne marshals support and plays her hand in the deadly game for power.

The author finds a character who can tell us they are all -- Danton, Desmoulins, Robespierre, Anne and their revolutionary caste -- "virgins."

Soon enough, she reappears before Desmoulins. "Theroigne swept in. She wore a white dress, and a tricolor sash about her waist. A National Guardsman's tunic, unbuttoned, was draped over her slim square shoulders. Her brown hair was a breeze-blown waterfall of curls; she employed one of those expensive hairdressers who make you look as if you've never been near a hairdresser in your life."

Desmoulin rebuffs her sexual play and denies her a job writing for whatever paper he's editing at the moment. She is damaged goods and he's worried about his reputation.

"As far as he knew, Anne was leading a chaste and blameless life; the strange thing was, that she seemed dedicated to giving the contrary impression. The royalist scandal sheets were not slow to pick up on anything. Theroigne was a gift from God, as far as they were concerned."

So she gets labeled the whore while Danton and Desmoulins enjoy the winning revolutionary's celebrity, notching their belts with every belle at every ball in town.

Anne, by opting for a public life, for demanding a voice, gets tarred and good.

And though she's acting, it's not an act. She's a revolutionary having her say and you can't mistake Theroigne for anything but what she is, except for what she's not.

Which is to say there is ambiguity in this portrait, someone we can both like and not like, a person on whom we are still withholding judgment, but find worthy of attention.

Onward.

The revolution, as most left-wing ventures tend to do, begins consuming itself. First overboard are the dreamers. Mantel tells us, "In May, Theroigne left Paris. She had no money and was tired of the royalist papers calling her a prostitute."

Noblesse Oblige indeed.

"One by one, the "murky layers of her past" had been peeled away to reveal unsavory acts and liaisons that "we've all done when necessity has pressed. It left her open, though, to ridicule and insult."

Anne's plan is to return once the libelers move on, but she suffers the star's burden of being missed: Her scarlet cloak, her "claque" surrounding, pistol swinging as she prowls the National Assembly's corridors looking for deputies to berate.

And so rumors circulated, in her absence, that the Austrians, with whom the revolutionary government is at war (along with the rest of Europe), have abducted her.

"Hope they keep her," is what Lucile, Desmoulins' modern wife and newly minted revolutionary, says. "What gave her the right to be a pseudo-man, turning up at the Cordeliers [that most ferocious of workerist sects] and demanding the rostrum."

Aborted Catfight

Lucille gets a shot at some answers when Theroigne shows up in her tricolored salon. Anne has been released by the Austrians with some money to boot, but she has not come to square-off with a feminine rival. She has come to lament. For her part, Camille's wife is very pregnant.

Their lives have assumed radically different paths, and each prefers the other's.

Theroigne is out of sorts, tattered, not sharp. Lucile can see that the hem is frayed on her scarlet coat, "that the dust on the streets was upon it, that even the red was not so red as it used to be."

Anne is furious that the papers are still spreading lies about her. And Camille is ignoring her.

"He's busy," Lucile covers for her husband.

"Oh yes, I'm sure he's busy. Busy playing cards at the Palais-Royal, busy dining with aristocrats. How can anyone think of passing the time of day with an old friend when there's champagne to be drunk and so many silly, empty-headed bitches to be screwed?"

"Including you," Lucile murmured.

"No, not including me," Theroigne stopped pacing. "Never including me. I have never slept with Camille, or with Jerome Petion, or with any of the other two dozen names the newspapers have named."

The object of a superior social deference, Lucile wouldn't dare stake the same claim.

Theroigne has a particular grudge against a royalist by the name of Louis Suleau, publisher of The Acts of the Apostles who has had his way with her good name in print.

Lucile is miserable in this hellion's company. She explains how Anne's bankrolled release from the Austrians has left her open to the charge of spying.

Theroigne comes a little undone. She admits to having a daughter who died after being left behind. She doesn't know how to write. Things are not going her way, her tribulations multiplying willy-nilly.

Today she has been weak.

Ascendant

But life can turn on a dime, and soon the angriest most radical of the revolutionary factions is literally up in arms, jailing aristocrats left and right, and forcing the king's imprisonment.

Desmoulins is witnessing a riot outside the Royal Palace at Versailles.

“Theroigne had taken charge. Here was her own, her little Bastille.”

She has led an “unfocused rabble” to a place where the royalty are being held against their will, and is breaking in, not to save them, but too...

More revolutionary and feminine portraiture:

“Theroigne wore black; she had a pistol in her belt, a saber in her hand, and her face was incandescent.”

It’s romantic writing, without getting melodramatic. Theroigne is incandescent, but she’s also out of her mind. Camille watches as the fourth prisoner emptied into the mob’s maws is Louis Suleau, the guy who’s been spreading the rumors.

It’s not a heroic moment, but an ugly one. Your own politics determine whether it is necessary.

Leader of the revolution, or some part of it, Desmoulins can do nothing but watch Theroigne, “approach Louis Suleau and say to him something that only he could have heard; Louis put up a hand, as if to say, what’s the point of going into all this now? The gesture etched itself into his mind. It was the last gesture. He saw Theroigne raise her pistol. He did not hear the shot.”

Don't call her a whore.

As all of the revolutionary class learned, direct action is effective, but does have its drawbacks. Among these are constant exposure to committed enemies and overheated throngs.

Some time later, Robespierre asks Camille if he’s heard about “that girl. Anne Theroigne.”

“What’s she done now?”

“She was making the speech in the Tuileries gardens, and a group of women attacked her -- rough women from the public gallery. She’s attached herself to Brissott and his faction, for some reason only she understands -- I can’t believe Brissot is delighted. She found the wrong audience -- I don’t know, but perhaps they thought she was some woman of fashion intruding on their patch.”

She is saved by the dangerous Jacobin scribe Marat, soon to be assassinated himself, at the hands of a “fashion plate.”

Camille laments that she was not killed. “I'll never forgive that bitch for what she did on August 10.”

Robespierre is philosophical. Old schoolmate or not, Suleau “ended up on the wrong side, didn’t he? And then so did she."

Brissot is on the extermination list, so Theroigne’s made a bad political call. It meant Robespierre wouldn't mind taking off her head.

But he does not have to kill Anne, because everyone thinks her own choices are doing it much better. Theroigne, in fact, ended up surviving the stunning violence of her time and living another 25 years.

In the book, Anne is done before the revolution is done. Disappearing as easily as she first appeared, she is an afterthought in the fast-moving paces of a tumultuous situation.

“A few weeks ago in the street Lucile and her mother had seen Anne Theroigne. It had taken them both a moment to recognize her. Theroigne was no longer pretty. She was thin; her face had fallen in as if she had lost some teeth. She passed them; something flickered in her eyes, but she didn’t speak. Lucile thought her pathetic -- a victim of the times. ‘No one could see her as attractive now,’ Annette said. She smiled. Her recent birthdays had passed, as she put it, without incident. Most men still looked at her with interest.”

Not this reader fair lady. Both eyes are on the rebel girl.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Two-Tone: An Alternative Iron Lady Obit

I said I see no joy,
I see only sorrow,
I see no chance of your bright new tomorrow.

So stand down Margaret,
stand down please,
stand down Margaret.

The Iron Lady hath finally melted away.

The encomiums have begun for the way she, together with Ronald Reagan, "transformed" the economies of Great Britain, the United States, and the entire international, capitalist enterprise.

There is less commentary on exactly what the transformation resulted in, since the alternative to the current no-pay/low-pay, low-security, highly-policed model would necessarily come from the left, and that can't happen.

The highway scribe lived through the elections and political changes wrought by Thatcher, Reagan, the Chicago School of Economics, and the aptly named Laffer tax curve.

highwayscribery was young and, like most young people, marginalized by society (or at least slumming it). His life was lived on city streets. Music was his inner compass and political weathervane.

The "latest" tunes of those times had been charged by electric currents of reggae and West Indies roots music into a languishing rock 'n roll scene. Clapton and Patty moved to Jamaica. Bob Marley rocked Madison Square.

One result of these artistic novelties was the "two-tone" movement of musicians that mixed white and black players into combos specializing in reggae and its funky step-sister, "ska," all aptly conjured and represented by our black-and-white visual at top.

"Don't call me Ska-Face!"

The Specials led the charge. Others trod the path they'd hacked into our consciousness, such as Madness and Bad Manners. These bands were political, leftist, and organically anti-racist.

The English Beat summarized youth sentiment from Kings Road to Washington Square with "Whine or Grine/Stand Down Margaret," quoted in the opening and here again:

you tell me how can it work in this all white law?
what a short, sharp lesson?
what a third world war?

oh stand down Margaret,
stand down please,
stand down Margaret.

The feeling among young hipsters throughout the western world was one of dread as the New Right took back our parents' benefits, reduced our college grants, leveled our artistic districts for the benefit of corporate development, and basically ended the world as we knew it, in exchange for something sort-of promising in an open-ended way, but more dangerous and less socially cohesive.

Thatcher and Reagan returned to the callous use of violence after it had fallen into discredit as a diplomatic tool. They came with a cure to the "Vietnam syndrome," which the right claimed was afflicting those who'd heeded the sobering lessons of that horrid national experience.

It viewed this new and cautious wisdom as some kind of retreat and gave it a name suggesting illness, rather than an evolution in our collective understanding about war's true costs.

So, those of us in the two-tone movement (and of draft age) did not much care for Maggie and Ronnie, for their policies were directed straight at us. Reagan's America went docilely along with him, but the Labour Party and its union allies stood strong to save their lives.

Now, "The Iron Lady" did not pick up the moniker from a tool she got good at wielding in a laundry shop. She got it for being willing to unleash the police state on those whom she had backed into a corner and forced to grab a pitchfork.

She won, but the rest of us lost.

In her 2012 autobiography, "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?"  British scribe Jeanette Winterson explained how she, a working class gal with few prospects or advantages, came to vote for Thatcher in May of 1979.

Winterson noted that the Brit left -- the unions and the Labour Party apparatus -- had been slow to equally engage women in their efforts. She liked that Thatcher was a woman and was swayed by her arguments for a society of greater risk and reward.

She recalled an existential apathy on the left, to which the scribe can attest. Although he did not vote for Reagan, highwayscribery was one with the country that some kind of change was needed. That the U.S. was in the doldrums.

As Winterson noted, we were all snookered.

Reagan and Thatcher, she wrote, "broke forever" the post-World War II political consensus that had endured for 30 years. That consensus had both the right and left agreeing that rebuilding Western economies could not be done through, "unregulated labor, unstable prices, no provision for the sick or the old or the unemployed. We were going to need a lot of housing, plenty of jobs, a welfare state, nationalisation of utilities and transport."

The consensus, she opined, represented "a real advance in human consciousness towards collective responsibility; an understanding that we owed something not only to our flag or to our country, to our children or our families, but to each other. Society, Civilization. Culture."

This winning recipe did not, she noted, spring from Victorian values, but from the "superior arguments of socialism."

The demise of this ideal was as sobering for her as it has been for millions worldwide:

"I did not realize that when money becomes the core value, then education drives towards utility or that the life of the mind will not be counted as good unless it produces measurable results. That public services will no longer be important. That an alternative life to getting and spending will become very difficult as cheap housing disappears. That when communities are destroyed only misery and intolerance are left.

"I did not know that Thatcherism would fund its economic miracle by selling off all our nationalised assets and industries.

"I did not realise the consequences of privatising society."

But she does now, as do those who were adversely affected by Thatcher's policies, even if those penning today's remembrances do not.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Brenda Lee en El Barrio" (poetry in motion).

A few months ago the highway scribe did a post about the days and times surrounding production of the feature film "Believe in Eve," for which he wrote the script.

In that post that scribe waxed poetic about a particular scene for which we now have a link: "Brenda Lee en El Barrio."

"For the scribe, the scene of Brenda Lee and Juan Roman walking through the Los Angeles barrio, as Alex Sellar reads a poem from the script to sprightly flamenco music, is a keepsake like no other. Many poems are published. Few are produced and mounted with the glue of music and image.

Brenda Lee Underwood
If I could only catch her
sheet of bright breeze
again.

If I could only manage a smile
for every mile of Loveworld
she lived in.

Oh, Cajun-spiced,
twice as nice,
something to count on
something taken for granted

Watch out!

Leave your wildflower in the wind
and see it be supplanted.

The scene is as lilting as the afternoon it was shot. Javier and DP Juan Carlos Ferro did naught but set a camera up at a street light west of McArthur Park and have Monique and Alex walk through the barrio, towards it. The day was devoid of the usual headaches associated with filming. It was lock, load and shoot. Ian McColl had come to watch the process and wound up playing, with all originality, the drug dealer who briefly accosts them.

The sun set on cue, an Indian woman walked into frame with a tropical plant in her hand, and the city blossomed around the lovers as they crossed the urban landscape, establishing an intimacy no amount of dialogue could have duplicated.

Elegant Mob Films endures as a maker of a dozen beautiful documentaries of radical and social cast. It is run by the director of "Believe in Eve" the aforementioned Javier Gomez Serrano, who has put up a link to "Believe in Eve" for all to enjoy. "Believe in Eve"

Thank you to the director for excerpting this scene for highwayscribery readers.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Student Circles, Street Art, and the Legacy of Bobby Kennedy



 
The legacy of Robert Kennedy came into full focus as those who carry on his work gathered for a celebration of time, space, and place, at a Los Angeles school site bearing his name.

The symposium "Seeing Through Others' Eyes" was convened by the Ojai Foundation, and Council in Schools, March 10.

"Council" is a program winnowing its way into the Los Angeles Unified School District where and when principals can be convinced of its utility.

"I tell principals the same thing," said Council in Schools, director, Joe Provisor. "You can be a bridgewalker between the vertical axis of authority and responsibility, and the horizontal access of humanity."

Council essentially deconstructs the way schooling is doled out in the public square, by letting students see their fellows' faces rather than the back of their heads, via the formation of a circle.

An act through which, Provisor said, "students demonstrate their willingness to be human."

Provisor and Council were not at the RFK Community Schools Paul Schrade Library by chance. It is one of the local institutions that weaves the circle into its curriculum.

The library also happens to be constructed over the footprint of the place where Kennedy gave his last speech.

"To see that event unfold here was devastating and changed my life," he recalled. "This is where that event took place. We stand on that sacred ground. He gave the acceptance speech here that night and this was the entry to the pantry where we lost him. But certainly not the spirit of what he represented."

The gathering, Provisor said, was convened to honor union man Paul Schrade's vision and efforts "to keep this a sacred place," through "bulldog activism." And also to honor Baca, whose two murals at each end of the library, Proviso said, "remind us who we've been and what we can be, through courageous recollection and self-expression."

Finally, the gathering was intended to honor the vision of Council in Schools, "This wild idea that we are going to shift the paradigm from the triangle to the circle, a simple vision of what learning can be when we're truly receptive to one another, to the natural world, and to the truth of our own experience."

All of which could have made for a rather disjointed event were it not for the conceptual links between council, Bobby Kennedy, and street art.

Paul Schrade

The 88-year old Schrade, a former United Auto Workers official, observed that circles are nothing to new to education or democracy, and that his union posted one a mile long around North American Aviation in Los Angeles during a strike years and years ago.

Schrade was one of the people shot along with Kennedy that fateful night of June 5, 1968.

"This beautiful room doesn't bring back the memories of that night, but it brings back the legacy of Robert Kennedy and what he stood for," Schrade said. "So many good things can happen in this room for students. And that's its great value."

Schrade detailed his long struggle to determine what happened in the pantry right behind the podium at which he was speaking

"We always knew there was a second gunman in the pantry with us that night," he told his audience. "Not just Sirhan Sirhan. I'm not trying to exonerate Sirhan one bit. He tried to shoot Robert Kennedy. He shot me and he probably shot four other people. But he never got a shot into Robert Kennedy."

The good news, Schrade said, is that after 44 years, an important piece of evidence supporting the idea of a second shooter has been found. There were, he explained, no television cameras and no tape recorders in the pantry that night...except for one in the FBI's possession recently uncovered by a CNN reporter.


Mural at South Wall of Paul Schrade Library

According to Schrade, the tape, currently undergoing forensic testing at an FBI lab in Quantico, Virg., reveals the possibility of double shots being fired and presents an opportunity to determine the make and model of the gun(s) used.

"So fortunately, we are in that position now," he continued, "because Robert Kennedy was trying to find out who killed President Kennedy right up until the day he died. He knew he had to become president to get behind [then-president] Johnson, and [FBI director] Hoover, and the CIA in order to find out. And he died trying."

Judy Baca discussed the mental processes behind the giant murals she created at each end of the notorious "ballroom" where Kennedy died.


Judy Baca

"My entire life has been about public memory," she explained. "About the land's memory. And I think that comes from my indigenous grandmother who knew that memory resided in place. No matter who you are in the world, what culture you come from, or where you live, or what experiences you had, you go to the place where the events occurred and you stand there to understand them, to feel them, to have them come into your body so that you can understand exactly how that battle was won on the fields of Gettysburg or to the Wailing Walls, or to all the places we stand at, at the edge of our river that has turned to stone, hardening the arteries of our land. You must go to the river to understand."

She quoted Kennedy's famed Day of Affirmation Speech delivered in South Africa, 1966: "Each time a man stands for another man's lot, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. Taken from a million different centers of energy it will bring down the mightiest walls of oppression."

This is a feeling, Baca observed, that we understand, but it was her challenge to conjure what it might look like. She opted for the interpretation of an iconic depiction placing Kennedy atop the hood of a car, touching at multiple hands reaching up for him.


"So I tried to imagine," Baca said, "what we kept seeing every time we looked at the campaign. Every time we saw Robert Kennedy in the public environment, people reached for him, the crowds circled him, they wanted to touch him. They stole his cufflinks, they were constantly crowding him. And Bobby was not a person who kept them away. He allowed them near him."

Kennedy was a man in transition at the time of his murder, Baca noted. "He said, 'I come from tons and tons of questionable wealth'. He understood that he had an obligation beyond that wealth...

"And he was in this transition of really understanding how to come from the darker recesses of mire, into the blooming. He was transforming himself as a leader."

The second mural at the north end of the library, above the entrance, had special meaning on this day, because its focus is an image of Kennedy breaking bread with United Farmworkers leader Cesar Chavez after a long hunger strike the latter had endured on behalf of the California field laborer's plight.


Detail of North Wall Mural

It was the 45th anniversary of that happening. Baca described in detail her attempt to render the problems youth will confront as they are launched into the world: war, health care challenges, environmental degradation, and put a person's face on each.

Mural at the north wall


"This is how we learn compassion. In the specificity of the human story," she declared.

Those attending what was also a fundraiser for Council in Schools were treated to a short documentary film, "Seeing Through Other's Eyes," on the concept, which they then experienced in practice, turning inward at their tables to express their sentiments on the afternoon's revelations.

Student Luis Rivas provided an overview of the RFK Youth Council Club on the multi-schooled campus.

"That is one of our primary goals," explained Monica Chinlund, an associate director for Council in Schools. "To develop Youth Council Leaders who will become the organizers of the community and, in doing so, manifest RFK Schools' core vision: turning out global leaders who address the world's problems while considering the perspectives of others by 'seeing through others' eyes'."

Omar Torrez returned from Mexico City for the tribute, and was scheduled to head back a day later. Despite a two-hour plus program, the Latin Hendrix kept attendees glued to their seats.

Torrez tipped his hat to Mexican sensibilities with a spare rendition of "La Llorona," sowed anarchistic sentiments with "Burn It Down," and fortified, what he believed to be, an underrepresented quotient of "aggressive masculinity" by getting everyone to sing his pirate song, "Marina."


This blog specializes in the sardonic, the satirical, the sophomoric, and other low-grade, low-risk literary endeavors, but you have to believe in something, and Bobby Kennedy has always been good enough for that. Every year we run a memorial on the anniversary of his death.

Bobby still speaks clearly through the years with his novel pledge to "make gentler the life of the world."

He rendered politics in poetic terms and so -- as a blog that celebrates the intersection of politics, poetry and prose -- we take the time and space and place to recall him once again.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Sean Hannity: Payment Due

In "All Hail the Fact," (Nov. 7, 2012), highwayscribery noted, "One has to wonder what Fox's credibility will be going forward with the true believers who kneel daily in its church. For months it posted news and facts from an alternative universe that never ceased to insist the president's coalition was coming undone and that red state redemption was just around the corner.

"Fool them once, shame on Fox. Fool them twice, shame on them."


Well, the bill has been passed to Sean Hannity sooner than later. It is being reported in various outlets that Hannity has lost exactly half his audience since President Obama's reelection.

One account says he took a particular hit in the 25-45 demographic, which is the one that pays the bills and is known as the "money demo." The pieces suggest Hannity's prognostications left his gullible fans "stunned" on election morning, thereby sparking the exodus.


It was difficult to watch Hannity in days before the election as his reports strained to explain away a steady stream of polls pointing to an Obama victory.

After the election, the grasping continued. An unfortunate Staten Island woman who'd lost everything in Hurricane Sandy was proof "Obama's Katrina" was around the corner.

The pre-election banging of pots over the nefarious murder of American diplomats in Libya continued, Sean confidently promising, "this isn't going away folks" while peddling a notion the unfortunate incident was reason enough to drive Obama out of office.


Hannity palavered and caviled furiously from his not-inconsiderable perch in the court of mass media, laboring to alter the course of American politics. A classic example of overreach from a media pundit soused in his own self-importance.

In the end, it became clear the carnival barkers can't alter the course of national events as well as they can influence (or delude) their own followers.

Obama's photograph is here posted, because Hannity's look just doesn't fit the visual "story" highwayscribery strives for, and because the president's the winner in this mano-a-mano with a snarky gadfly who has made a living insulting Americans that share the commander-in-chief's values.

Hannity made a bet on those who pined for an Obama defeat in 2012, stoking their anger and lifting their hopes. That wager delivered short-term benefits, but now its flaws have become painfully clear.