Also religious. The Quaker Meeting I attend is in the country between Burlington & Pittsboro NC. Those cities and my home town, Durham, is served by the contaminated Haw river. And I lived/worked in Fayetteville (near Fort Bragg) for more than a decade, where the Haw (called there the Cape Fear River) flows through the city, and water safety issues were continuous.
The Quaker Meeting is called Spring. That’s because a small spring runs across part of its property.
A running spring is rich with quiet and reassuring spiritual symbolism (“living water”). But we don’t drink from it. The spring may be picturesque —and there’s a good chance it’s not safe.
Water issues are not daily headlines here, but water anxiety is widespread. Every time I’m at the big box market, I see folks pushing carts loaded with the smaller plastic water bottles that the cognoscenti so despise. I don’t judge them.
Drinking water for my house comes from the reverse osmosis purifier at our nearby co-op market, in recycled gallon jugs
It’s Opening Day, and I have a confession to make.
It’s not an April Fool.
Here it is:
it’s Opening Day, and I don’t care.
And I’m not sure why.
Is it part of the pandemic hangover, part of the “Old Normal” that was ripped away from us a year ago, now lost somewhere amid the endless charts and graphs of debility and deaths? The exhaustion of these masked months continues, and has left me no spare “disk space” for wondering about trades and predictions and highlight reels.
Or is it another side effect of surviving the long brutal years of 45? That could be a big part of it. As the renegade Republican sage Rick Wilson put it in his first best-seller, Everything T—— Touches Dies. His reign certainly sucked the pleasure out of so many other things. The toxicity of this anti-Midas touch was clearly in evidence by October 2019. That’s when the White House Occupant paid his sole visit to a game. Sports Illustratedtold it plainly:
“President Donald T—— was greeted with loud boos from the crowd at Game 5 of the World Series between the Nationals and Astros on Sunday.
T——was shown on the big screen at Nationals Park during the team’s salute to veterans after the third inning. Fans in attendance loudly yelled “lock him up,” a chant T—— supporters began in 2016 directed at his opponent and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. . . .
T—— did not sit with the Lerner family, the principal owners of the Nationals. According to WUSA, a representative for the Lerner family requested that MLB not put the family in a position to turn down a request from the White House to sit with Trump.
Except T——, every president since William Taft in 1910 has thrown out a ceremonial first pitch, either for Opening Day, the All-Star Game or the World Series. In 2010, President Obama threw out the first pitch on Opening Day at Nationals Park to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Presidential Opening Day first pitches.
According to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, T—— decided not to throw out the ceremonial first pitch “in order to make the fan experience as positive as possible.”
Sunday marked T——‘s first [and last] major league game since he took office in 2017. [Note: Trigger word emended as a public health measure.]
This remarkable tribute is by Mark Schwartz, an attorney from Bryn Mawr PA. It is a remarkable tribute to the work and memory of a photographer friend, Christopher Cardozo, who in turn had made a career of preserving and paying tribute to the work of an earlier pioneering photographer-ethnographer. It was so striking i am posting it here, with Schwartz’s permission:
Christopher Cardozo: Foremost Authority on American Indian Ethnographer and Photographer Edward S. Curtis, died on February 21, 2021 in Minneapolis at age 72
Despite a family lineage in the law going back to Justice Benjamin Cardozo, Christopher Cardozo serendipitously took a very different path, candidly observing that “I would probably be a walking malpractice suit”.
Born February 27, 1948, after graduating with a degree in photography and film from the University of Minnesota, a professor invited him to Oaxaca, Mexico to help make a film. After taking five months to save up to buy a 10-year-old VW Beetle, camera lenses and film, Cardozo made the trek across the continent, finally arriving only to be informed that his professor had decided not to make the film. The curt apology was, “I should have written.”
Notwithstanding, Cardozo stayed on in the remote Mexican village of San Andres Chicahuzxla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
He spent six sometimes dangerous months in 1972 documenting a place and people who were losing their way. Chris’ sepia-toned images of the villagers prompted a friend to observe that his photos were remarkably similar to Edward Curtis’ work.
His curiosity piqued, Cardozo furiously studied, acquired, exhibited and replicated Curtis’ work. This became the making of a career spanning more than fifty years.
He thus became the foremost authority on Curtis. Cardozo came to realize, “I was led to this. This was my soul’s purpose. Why I ended up on Earth at this particular time was to make this work available to people.”
Edward Curtis’s exposure to Native American culture came some seventy years earlier than Cardozo’s parallel experience. In the summer of 1900 , Curtis (1868-1952) witnessed one of the last performances of the Blackfoot Indian Tribe’s “Sun Dance” ceremony. Ushered in to the lives of Native Americans , Edward Sheriff Curtis wrote “It’s such a big dream. I can’t see it all.” This became Cardozo’s catch phrase in sharing and perpetuating Curtis’ dream of preserving the history and legacy of these magnificent people.
Curtis had left a promising career as a society photographer to photograph Native Americans in their home lands. He spent three decades at this.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Edward S. Curtis worked in the belief that he was in a desperate race against time to document, with film, sound and scholarship, the North American Indian before white expansion and the federal government destroyed what remained of their natives’ way of life. For thirty years, with the backing of men like J. Pierpont Morgan and former president Theodore Roosevelt, but at great expense to his family life and his health, Curtis lived among dozens of native tribes, devoting his life to his calling.
Over the course of thirty years Curtis had compiled a photo-ethnographic study: The North American Indian. In 1911 the New York Herald characterized it as the most gigantic undertaking since the publication of the King James Edition of the Bible.
Consisting of twenty leather-bound volumes, twenty portfolios containing more than 2,200 original photogravures, and 4,000 pages of anthropological text. His attention to detail included transcriptions of tribal language and music, and the work involved the active participation of over 10,000 Native Americans.
Finalized in 1930, in the depth of the Great Depression, less than three hundred sets were actually produced with only two hundred actually sold. This published work was in addition to some 45,000 to 50,000 negatives (many on glass) , ten thousand wax cylinders of ceremonial music and language recordings, and motion picture footage, all taken by Curtis.
The magnum opus completed, having driven himself to the limit, Curtis lost everything, suffering a physical and nervous breakdown in 1930. He died in 1952 essentially unknown and penniless.
It was in the seventies, in large part owing to Cardozo’s activities, that Curtis’ work enjoyed a resurgence.
Summing up his own contribution, Cardozo told the Minneapolis Star & Tribune (12/18/18),
“I believe I was instrumental in changing the conversation about Curtis. He’d been thought of as an ethnographer….. But I got people to see his work as the artistic achievement that it was. The platinum prints, the gold tones, the cyanographs—they leave me speechless at times.”
Cardozo is the author of nine monographs on Edward Curtis, and has created and curated one-person Curtis exhibitions that have been seen in nearly one hundred venues in over forty countries, and on every continent, but Antarctica. Why? He summed up his vision in a Forbes interview:
Edward Curtis created the most valuable and sought-after set of rare books in US history and left the world a legacy of inestimable importance. It is a deeply human story which, at its essence, is imbued with beauty, heart, and spirit. I believe that in no small part, this is why these iconic images have endured for over a century. It also helps explain why Curtis is the most widely collected photographer in the 170 year history of the medium, and why his photographs have been exhibited to rave reviews all over the world, from Papua, New Guinea to Paris.
Having collected Curtis’s artwork for decades, Cardozo created the world’s largest and most broad-ranging Curtis collection. His personal collection has been exhibited in major museums internationally, and was the subject of his widely heralded monograph on Curtis: Sacred Legacy; Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian, and a new monograph on his personal collection titled Edward S. Curtis: One Hundred Masterworks, in which Cardozo said
“Curtis’ work changed the way our nation viewed Native Americans and generated a broad-ranging dialogue for greater compassion, understanding, and inclusion. For more than a century, his images have moved and inspired diverse audiences, transcending economic, cultural, social, educational , and national boundaries. He accomplished this at a time when Native Americans were commonly viewed with disdain or hatred and some individuals were still actively advocating for the extinction of all Native peoples on the North American continent. Contributing to that work was Minnesota writer Louise Erdrich who wrote that Curtis’ images of women were “ as disquieting as they are profoundly beautiful.”
With the few remaining 160 sets of Curtis “The North American Indian” financially and physically out of reach of new generations of scholars and students, Cardozo undertook the three-year painstaking task of artisan republication of the 20-volume work and accompanying portfolios, so as to coincide with the 2018 sesquicentennial of Curtis’ birth.
With the republication accomplished, Cardozo, long bothered by the fact that he was a white man owning so much of Native America’s legacy, launched the “10,000 Print Repatriation Project” to connect the descendants of those photographed with their ancestors’ images.
As the founder of Cardozo Fine Art in Minneapolis, he has pioneered techniques for preserving and revitalizing historic photographs, as well as developing cutting edge techniques for contemporary photography. He was also the founder and board chair of the Edward S. Curtis Foundation, dedicated to preserving and exhibiting the work of Edward Curtis. No one has done more to increase the awareness, understanding, and appreciation for Curtis’ work than Cardozo. Friends and family are committed to continuing his work.
Upon reaching the age of 70, he wanted to return full circle to his own photography which launched this incredible journey.
Christopher Cardozo is survived by his beloved Mother Patricia, Sisters Julie and Claudia, Brother Jeffrey, his Niece Brittany Lease (Lewis) and their children Alden, Ben and Milo. Chris also has ten Goddaughters and Godsons with whom he shared many years of companionship and mentoring. His network of friends, scholars and artistic colleagues knew him as a man with a lovely zest for life lived with no estimated time of arrival . . . .
One day, deep in the pit of my midlife angst, I saw a job notice on a bulletin board at the Merrifield postal facility. It was for a part-time EEO Investigator.
It was 1990, and for five years I had been moving mail in this enormous mail processing center in the DC Virginia suburbs.
I was told, and I believe it, that every day six million pieces of mail came in at one end of the block-long-hangarlike facility, and that same day six million pieces needed to go out the other end. There were seasons of the mail, but like the nearby Potomac River, it never stopped.
The post office was good money and honest work, but I was desperate to get out. I wanted to write stuff about and for Quakers, organize events, stir the pot. It was a harmless enough ambition, assuredly obscure; but it was mine. Unfortunately, nobody was hiring for that.
The EEO gig would be a step up. At least it called on my civil rights experience from the Sixties. This would not be marches or jail, rather the humdrum nitty gritty of their aftermath, making the legal progress work. (If it did.) Continue reading Going Postal→
If there’s ever a historic marker put up in Burr’s memory, the curious will have to search for it, and it will have plentiful blank space.
But despite all my “elite” blogger’s disdain, I have now been shown up as having grossly underestimated Burr’s legislative work ethic and its impact. The crushing exposé came in a report in the New York Times on March 22, 2021.
It turns out that Burr is quite capable of working like a dog, by golly a determined attack dog at that. The Times even has the paperwork covered with bite marks to prove it.
I apologize for the error.
Of course, it had to be just the right burning, moral, lives-are-at-stake issue to get Burr to jump the leash and put down the stock market reports.
The mare, nicknamed Dusty, died at age 25, the Foundation for Shackleford Horses wrote Saturday on Facebook. She was “one of the grand dames of the wild herd” that lives on the Shackleford Banks, which is the southernmost island on Cape Lookout National Seashore. . . .
“Rest well, run free, old girl,” the group said of Dusty’s death.
More than 100 wild horses live on Shackleford Banks, according to the National Park Service, which co-manages the herd with the foundation. . . . .”
I once visited another “wild” band, on Assateague Island, another link in the same outer banks chain with its own band of “wild” horses.
I remember it well. The horses stood around, lounged really, under the watchful gaze of uniformed park rangers. They let my kids walk up and stroke their long necks. Numerous signs told us what to do and not do around them, especially not feed them. The feds made sure they got proper nutrition. About the only thing they had to fear was hurricanes.
When we left, the kids were puzzled at my dismissive comment: “They’re not ‘wild horses,’” I snorted. “They’re Welfare Ponies.”
This disdain reflected memories of my other previous visit with such a band, which happened in 1977, almost 3000 miles west, under starkly different conditions: not the cosseted, beach-surrounded, foundation-protected eight square mile sliver of Shackleford. Instead they roamed a vast chunk of windswept & sunburnt high desert, almost 900 times as large. There was more wilderness in all directions beyond it. No upscale shorefront condos over the next rise; instead threats of death on every side.
Starvation and thirst stalk them relentlessly, as do hunters with battered cowboy hats, well-oiled rifles, and utter contempt for any government beyond (maybe) a distant county sheriff. Most of the land is federally-owned, and land management agents were scattered across the region, but they kept a low profile, and were not from the National Park Service.
There was a lot going on in 1930. The “Great” Depression had thrown millions out of work. Its impact fed labor unrest and political radicalism, some violent. Herbert Hoover was under siege in the White House. In India, the British Empire was too.
Withal, the Times nevertheless took a moment to update its style book.
The notice is right there, in the March 7 issue, on page 20. In the fifth column of a six-column layout, halfway down. Not exactly a ticker tape parade with elaborate floats and ranks of blaring trumpets. But official enough.
The notice continues: “certain popular and social traditions have resisted this tendency. Races have their capitalized distinction, as have nationalities, sects and cults, tribes and clans. It therefore seems reasonable that a people who had once a proud designation, such as Ethiopians, reaching back into the dawn of history, having come up out of the slavery to which men of English speech subjected them, should now have such recognition as the lifting of the name from the lower case into the upper can give them. Major
Of course, there’s a back story here.
Pauli Murray, who is just now gaining some long overdue recognition for her amazing career and life, was then a militant advocate of the change. She wrote later:
I was born during the era when “Colored” was the prevalent usage, along with the ignominious lowercase “negro,” which I passionately hated because the absence of capitalization conveyed the status of a thing and not a person.
During my college days in the early 1930s I routinely went through my textbooks, using a fountain pen to change the small n to capital N wherever I encountered the term “negro.”
My generation of activists was part of a long struggle to elevate the designation to its capitalized form, so that “Negro” became a mark of dignity and respect.
The Times didn’t notice or heed Murray, who in 1930, was an unknown, impoverished, but brilliant student at Hunter College. But the paper did notice the man who was regarded (by elite whites) as the official spokesman of “his people”. That was Major:
All this is very high-minded; but I suspect there is more to the back story. Consider:
In those days, black voters were few, especially in the South, but in a national election they were not irrelevant. In 1928, Moton had supported Republican Herbert Hoover for president; most black voters, remembering Lincoln and emancipation, were Republicans.
Hoover had promised to include more blacks in his administration, and in particular to bring aid to black flood refugees trapped in a levee camp after disastrous 1927 floods in Mississippi. But once elected, Hoover double-crossed Moton and the refugees.
Moton got even, though. In 1932 he switched parties and backed Franklin Roosevelt, who beat Hoover decisively. Moton’s biographer asserts his switch marked the beginning of a move by back voters en masse into the Democratic camp, where they remain pillars today.
The Times had long backed Democratic presidential candidates. Was their openness to Moton’s request part of the courtship that drew him away from the old GOP allegiance?
In any event the Times was ready to do what Moton recommended:
Pauli Murray was among those who was gratified:
“That struggle was finally won when textbook writers and newspapers adopted uppercase “Negro” in the late 1930s, and official government publications followed suit in the middle and late 1940s.”
“Negro”with a capital N had a pretty good run, about thirty years. Another “Negro leader” who considered it an advance was Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who proudly used it until his death in 1968.
Not only that, even many white southern politicians, including the notorious George Wallace of Alabama, learned (with obvious effort) to pronounce “Knee-grow” clearly enough to make linguistic space between it and the cognate slurs they had been repeating for decades.
But as we said at the beginning, language and usages change, and not by any orderly or fair, process. By the time Dr. King was buried, “Negro” was under pressure, not from segregationists, but from a new generation of militants for whom it was a term for fuddy-duddies and an over-the-hill black establishment.
One of the many targets of this younger impatient militance was a now older militant, who had overcome many obstacles to make it through law school, and then do outstanding work on the historic 1954 Brown school desegregation case, and raised pioneering hell on many other issues (too many to do justice to here), who was now teaching civil rights courses at Brandeis University, Pauli Murray:
Symbolic of the heightened racial consciousness that invaded the class room was an exchange with one of the . . . students which threatened to disrupt my class on my first day of teaching. I was outlining the content of the course when a young man interrupted me with the question, “Why do you keep saying ‘Knee-grows’ when you’re talking about black people?”
The young man’s querulous inquiry caught me off guard. I was having my usual first-day jitters, meeting a strange class in a new setting, and in a combative manner embarrassed me. I explained that “Negro” was a legitimate usage, a proper noun adopted by scholars and official government publications, and was preferred by many people, including me.
The young militant was unmoved. Pauli Murray stuck to her convictions, but she was clearly on the losing side of that usage struggle. She died in 1985, content, it’s reported, but not for that reason. And she was preserved thereby from reading releases like this one, from January 2008:
UNCF Adopts New Brand Identity, Without the Word ‘Negro’
January 17, 2008: In its new logo unveiled Thursday, the United Negro College Fund has dropped its full name, opting to go as UNCF as part of a branding strategy that conveys the organization as a contemporary and progressive advocate of Blacks in higher education while also maintaining its heritage.
During the four-year effort to update its logo, UNCF officials heard suggestions that it change its name, Dr. Michael Lomax, UNCF president and CEO, said during a press conference at Spelman College to announce the new brand identity.
“One of the issues in the full name, African-Americans don’t view themselves as Negros,” Lomax said, recounting a conversation in which editors and writers at VIBE magazine told him the name is not “speaking to the hip-hop generation.”
“For most young people, it is a barrier,” Lomax said. “We’ve found the happy medium.”
About the only consolation Pauli Murray and the other champions of “Negro with a Capital N” can take is that history shows that the wheel of language usage keeps on turning, so who knows if or when it might be back.
Oh, and by the way, it’s good thing the Times acknowledged it was late to the “Negro” party, even in 1930.
The issue shows elsewhere that the paper was hardly a pioneer. Indeed, the Times didn’t hire a Negro/Black/African American reporter until 1966. His name was Thomas Johnson.
Quote of the Weekend: Here’s the part of the COVID Relief Bill we’ve all been waiting for (in case you nodded off listening to it being read aloud in the Senate):
“subsection (a)(1) of such section 314 shall be applied by substituting ‘91 percent’ for ‘89 percent’” and “without regard to requirements in sections 658E(c)(3)(E) or 658G of such Act (42 U.S.C. 9858c(c)(3), 9858e).”
Those are actual excerpts from the Covid relief bill.
“May I be boiled in oil, And fried in Crisco, If I ever call San Francisco, Frisco.”
All right, let’s stipulate that some of those San Francisco schools SHOULD be renamed. But some other cases are, well, complicated.
I mean, if living in an independent country has any value for us, the bad news that George Washington was a slaveowner can’t be the end of discussion about him; dammit, he and his ragtag army did win the revolution.
Then he declined to celebrate by taking on the crown his victory had displaced.
That’s a gesture which some of us have just re-learned is definitely not chopped liver. (Tho some of us evidently just haven’t.)
Ditto for the fact that Lincoln was a stone segregationist who hoped slaves would be freed so they could all be shipped to Central America.
Terrible “optics, in politico-speak. And a completely cockamamie idea; but then Abe still got woke enough to end legal slavery. And he gave some boffo speeches, huuugely better than, say, “The carnage stops here.” There’s a whole lot of reckoning yet to be done there.
Instead, tho, according to numerous press reports, the SF renaming process turned into a contender for the worst imitation of a bad SNL cold open that ever made comedy writers spew their coffee.
The renamers even voted to toss Roosevelt Middle School, tho they couldn’t seem to be bothered to figure out which Roosevelt it was, FDR or Teddy, to whom they were giving the boot. (But who cares? They were both dead white males.)
Well, anyway. Looks like becoming a laughingstock finally got under somebody’s skin there, and the renaming is now toast.
But it really ought not to be. Some of the names probably should go. Plus there are definitely new names that need recognition. (Looking at you, Harriet Tubman. And my sentimental Sixties favorite, Wavy Gravy.)
Besides, the reexamination of all 44 could be a Golden Gate into substantive educational experiences involving the students too. (Students? What a concept.)
Well, Frisco school folks, you gave yourselves a big load of lemons.
So now get busy, catch up on that history homework you skipped, and make your city some serious educational lemonade, meringue pies and (gluten free) pound cake already.
‘Mistakes were made’ BY DON SWEENEY — FEBRUARY 22, 2021 Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco will be among 44 schools which was to have their names changed following a 6-1 vote by the school board. Those plans are now on hold, school officials say.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s disappearance has also been stayed.
Gabriela Lopez, newly elected as president of the school board, said in a statement Sunday that school officials must focus on reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Reopening will be our only focus until our children and young people are back in school,” Lopez wrote. She canceled further hearings by a renaming committee.
Lopez called the school renaming issue “one of many distracting debates,” noting the process began before anyone anticipated a pandemic shutting down in-person schooling.
“I acknowledge and take responsibility that mistakes were made in the renaming process,” Lopez wrote.
When the renaming project reopens, district leaders will seek a “more deliberative” process involving historians along with parents and educators, Lopez wrote.
The school board voted 6-1 Jan. 26 to strip the names, now considered offensive, from 44 San Francisco schools, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“It’s a message to our families, our students and our community,” said trustee Mark Sanchez at the time, according to the publication. “It’s not just symbolic. It’s a moral message.”
Parents and teachers at each school would have had until April to propose new names to be approved by the board, Courthouse News reported. The renaming project was expected to cost $440,000.
School names honoring Paul Revere, Francis Scott Key, Thomas Jefferson, Herbert Hoover, Father Junipero Serra and Robert Louis Stevenson were also among those scheduled to be changed, according to a district list.
The renaming committee faulted Washington for owning slaves, Lincoln for the hangings of Native Americans and Feinstein for reports she once ordered the replacement of a Confederate flag torn down by protesters.
Other names to be changed include those of conquistadors who explored California and notable San Francisco residents, including a former superintendent, who held racist views.
The board also voted to rename Roosevelt Middle School despite confusion over whether it was originally named for Theodore or Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Fox News reported.
A committee studied the proposed name changes for two years before the decision was made, according to a presentation from the San Francisco Unified School District.
The presentation says involvement in colonization, slavery, genocide, exploitation of workers, oppression, racism and other human rights abuses are reasons to remove someone’s name from a school.
Some of the criteria for possible replacement names included a grounding in social or economic justice, local rather than national figures and those who bring “joy and healing to the world.”
The proposed name changes generated national commentary, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed criticized the proposals in October, KGO reported.
“The fact that our kids aren’t in school is what’s driving inequity in our city, not the name of a school,” Breed said, according to the station.
Former President Donald Trump posted to Twitter about the proposal in December, calling it “so ridiculous and unfair,” The Hill reported.
Critics of the name changes argued that historical figures should be judged in historical context of all their efforts, not dismissed for individual questionable actions, Courthouse News reported.
Just about every day, Facebook pops up on my personal page a post & photo from this date some year in the past, as a memory.
The other day, a photo came up on FB of me, taking nap recliner, while mischievous granddaughter, seven, piling stuffed animals and stuff on my torso to see how much she could stack up on me before the weight woke me up.
This happened one year ago during a family reunion over an extended weekend in Las Vegas, where my daughter works as a nurse. It was silly scene, but showed we were having a fine time, so it was worth a passing remembrance.
Then I realized something else about it. That trip and gathering marked the end of the world.
Well, not the end of THE world, but surely the end of A world: the pre-pandemic world, the demise of what can be called the Good Old Days. And so that silly photo of me asleep with odds and ends piled on my belly in late February 2020, also marked the anniversary – better say the first anniversary — of the era of Covid.
After that family weekend, within just a few weeks, schools were closed, unemployment swept through us like a tornado, markets crashed, toilet paper disappeared and lockdowns were coming, and the last time I was able to worship in person at our meetinghouse until – when?
And on this unwelcome anniversary, I realized a couple other things: one is that it’s not over; far from it. The other is a strong suspicion, that even when it’s declared to be over, it may be impossible to go “back to normal.” At least not entirely.