“It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.”
IN THE NEWS–
America Has Never Been More Ripe For Tyranny by Zohar Lazar (New York Magazine, May 1, 2016)
As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Plato’s Republic. It has unsettled — even surprised — me from the moment I first read it in graduate school. The passage is from the part of the dialogue where Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly evolve into another. And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy.” What did Plato mean by that? Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become. Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread. Deference to any sort of authority would wither; tolerance of any kind of inequality would come under intense threat; and multiculturalism and sexual freedom would create a city or a country like “a many-colored cloak decorated in all hues.”
This rainbow-flag polity, Plato argues, is, for many people, the fairest of regimes. The freedom in that democracy has to be experienced to be believed — with shame and privilege in particular emerging over time as anathema. But it is inherently unstable. As the authority of elites fades, as Establishment values cede to popular ones, views and identities can become so magnificently diverse as to be mutually uncomprehending. And when all the barriers to equality, formal and informal, have been removed; when everyone is equal; when elites are despised and full license is established to do “whatever one wants,” you arrive at what might be called late-stage democracy. There is no kowtowing to authority here, let alone to political experience or expertise. Read full article–
The Electoral College was explicitly designed to protect slavery (Rawstory HNN, Dec. 19, 2016)
South Carolina’s Charles Pinckney opposed direct election of the president because the “most populous States by combining in favor of the same individual will be able to carry their points.” This statement cannot, however, be taken at face value. The issue here was not population, but the voting population. Half the people in South Carolina were slaves, and Pinckney could not support the direct election of the president, because that would hurt the South.
Hugh Williamson of North Carolina made this point directly, bluntly noting that the South could not support popular election because the people would “vote for some man in their own State, and the largest State will be sure to succeed. This will not be Virga. However. Her slaves will have no suffrage.” This was a critical observation. If the president were directly elected by the people, then southerners, especially Virginians, might not get elected. Virginia had the largest population of any state, but about 40% of its people were slaves and none of them could vote. The same of course would be true for the rest of the South. Read full article–
L.A. to spend $750,000 to conserve public murals and paint new ones by Deborah Vankin (Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles will announce a new Citywide Mural Program on Tuesday that calls for $750,000 to be spent on the restoration and preservation of historic fine art murals as well as the development of new ones.
The Department of Cultural Affairs program, which will run through June 2016, is an outgrowth of the city’s 2013 ordinance allowing new murals after a nearly 10-year ban, said Danielle Brazell, the department’s general manger of cultural affairs.
“Once it passed and murals were no longer illegal, we had a new set of guidelines in which the city could get behind murals once again,” Brazell said. “For close to a decade, there were no resources to restore fine art murals or commission new ones. This is something the mayor put in the budget last year and the City Council supported it.” Read full article–
“Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendor of achievement,
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision
But today well lived makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness
And tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation to the dawn.”
IN THE NEWS–
Donald Trump, This Is Not Normal! by Charles M. Blow (NY Times, Dec. 19, 2016)
To have a president who nurses petty vengeances against the press and uses the overwhelming power of the presidency to attack any reporting of fact not colored by flattery and adoration is not normal.
It doesn’t matter if he is motivated by calculation — particularly toward diversion — or compulsion: His behavior remains unsettling and even dangerous.
To have a president who apparently does not have time for daily intelligence briefings, but who can make time for the most trite anti-intellectual stunts, like staging a photo-op with a troubled rapper and twilight-tweeting insults like a manic insomniac, is not normal. Read full article–
IN THE NEWS–
Aftermath: Sixteen Writers on Trump’s America (The New Yorker, Nov. 21, 2016 Issue)
“Mourning For Whiteness” an essay by Toni Morrison –
This is a serious project. All immigrants to the United States know (and knew) that if they want to become real, authentic Americans they must reduce their fealty to their native country and regard it as secondary, subordinate, in order to emphasize their whiteness. Unlike any nation in Europe, the United States holds whiteness as the unifying force. Here, for many people, the definition of “Americanness” is color.
Under slave laws, the necessity for color rankings was obvious, but in America today, post-civil-rights legislation, white people’s conviction of their natural superiority is being lost. Rapidly lost. There are “people of color” everywhere, threatening to erase this long-understood definition of America. And what then? Another black President? A predominantly black Senate? Three black Supreme Court Justices? The threat is frightening.
In order to limit the possibility of this untenable change, and restore whiteness to its former status as a marker of national identity, a number of white Americans are sacrificing themselves. They have begun to do things they clearly don’t really want to be doing, and, to do so, they are (1) abandoning their sense of human dignity and (2) risking the appearance of cowardice. Much as they may hate their behavior, and know full well how craven it is, they are willing to kill small children attending Sunday school and slaughter churchgoers who invite a white boy to pray. Embarrassing as the obvious display of cowardice must be, they are willing to set fire to churches, and to start firing in them while the members are at prayer. And, shameful as such demonstrations of weakness are, they are willing to shoot black children in the street. Read full article–
POEM OF THE WEEK–
“I Know My Soul” by Claude McKay
I plucked my soul out of its secret place,
And held it to the mirror of my eye,
To see it like a star against the sky,
A twitching body quivering in space,
A spark of passion shining on my face.
And I explored it to determine why
This awful key to my infinity
Conspires to rob me of sweet joy and grace.
And if the sign may not be fully read,
If I can comprehend but not control,
I need not gloom my days with futile dread,
Because I see a part and not the whole.
Contemplating the strange, I’m comforted
By this narcotic thought: I know my soul
Claude McKay (1889-1948) was a Jamaican-born poet who became a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance.
IN THE NEWS–
In L.A.’s garment industry, ‘Made in the USA’ can mean being paid $3 an hour by Jessie Kornberg (LA Times, Dec. 14, 2016)
Just as the busiest shopping period of the year got underway, the U.S. Department of Labor released a bombshell report that might make you suspicious of clothing that’s “Made in the USA.” After a three-year comprehensive study, the Labor Department confirmed what workers’ rights advocates like me have long contended: Worker abuse and wage theft is rampant in the U.S. garment industry.
The report revealed that 85% of garment industry employers studied were violating federal minimum wage and record-keeping laws. More than 660 investigations involving 5,158 workers over three years documented $8,098,988 in stolen wages. Read full article–
December 15 – IT’S LIT: A Literary Turn Up
“IT’S LIT is a monthly opportunity to study and discuss black literature hosted by @snatchpower, and led by @sondriawrites.
We read stories BY BLACK WRITERS in class (printouts provided), then we talk about them. You won’t get this in your english class…SNATCH KNOWLEDGE! SNATCH POWER!” See Event Details–
December 15, 2016
4343 Leimert Blvd.
“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
IN THE NEWS–
Donald Trump is assembling the richest administration in modern American history by Jim Tankersley and Ana Swanson (Nov. 30, 2016)
When George W. Bush assembled his first Cabinet in 2001, news reports dubbed them a team of millionaires, and government watchdogs questioned whether they were out of touch with most Americans’ problems. Combined, that group had an inflation-adjusted net worth of about $250 million — which is roughly one-tenth the wealth of Donald Trump’s nominee for commerce secretary alone.
Trump is putting together what will be the wealthiest administration in modern American history. His announced nominees for top positions include several multimillionaires, an heir to a family mega-fortune and two Forbes-certified billionaires, one of whose family is worth as much as industrial tycoon Andrew Mellon was when he served as treasury secretary nearly a century ago. Rumored candidates for other positions suggest Trump could add more ultra-rich appointees soon.
Many of the Trump appointees were born wealthy, attended elite schools and went on to amass even larger fortunes as adults. As a group, they have much more experience funding political candidates than they do running government agencies. read full article–
Ten Days After: Harassment and Intimidation in the Aftermath of the Election by The Southern Poverty Law Center (Nov. 29, 2016)
Just a week before the November 8th election, attackers set a church in Greenville, Mississippi, on fire. The historically black church was targeted in what authorities believe was an act of voter intimidation, its walls spray-painted with the phrase “Vote Trump.”
“This kind of attack happened in the 1950s and 1960s,” Greenville’s mayor said, “but it shouldn’t happen in 2016.”
The incident was just a harbinger of what has become a national outbreak of hate, as white supremacists celebrate Donald Trump’s victory.* In the ten days following the election, there were almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation from across the nation. Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults, making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.
People have experienced harassment at school, at work, at home, on the street, in public transportation, in their cars, in grocery stores and other places of business, and in their houses of worship. They most often have received messages of hate and intolerance through graffiti and verbal harassment, although a small number also have reported violent physical interactions. Some incidents were directed at the Trump campaign or his supporters. read full article–
EXCLUSIVE OPEN READING–
My good friend S.A. Griffin will be hosting an Inauguration Day open reading at Beyond Baroque in Venice, CA. Anyone is welcome to join us in solidarity against the neo-fascist Trump and his catastrophic agenda. We encourage people to speak out– the more we do the better– but it is just as important that we gather. We hope to see you there! -Anna Ureña
NOT OUR PRESIDENT Open Reading
January 20, 2017 @7pm
3-5 minutes per reader
Location: Beyond Baroque – 681 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
ART EXHIBITIONS IN L.A.–
LACMA – Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time (Opening Dec. 4)
Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera were contemporaries, erstwhile competitors, equally ambitious and prolific as artists, internationally famous, and well aware of their larger-than-life personalities. Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time presents moments of intersection in the formation of modernism both in Europe and Latin America, and asks how these towering figures of the twentieth century engaged with their respective ancient Mediterranean and Pre-Columbian worlds. The exhibition compares their artistic trajectories beginning with their similar academic training to their shared investment in Cubism and their return to an engagement with antiquity from the 1920s through the 1950s. By placing 150 paintings, etchings, and watercolors in dialogue with each other and with singular ancient objects, Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time aims to advance the understanding of Picasso and Rivera’s practice, particularly in how their contributions were deeply influenced by the forms, myths, and structures of the arts of antiquity. see event details–
IN THE NEWS–
Breaking the Chains of Empire: the Enduring Legacy of Fidel Castro by John Wight (Nov. 28, 2016)
Fidel Castro dedicated his life to the resistance of empire and the ocean of injustice and oppression inflicted in its name. Though his death may mark the end of the man, it gives birth to a legend that will endure for centuries to come.
Such is the legacy that Fidel leaves behind it is impossible to fully comprehend the sheer magnitude of the role he played in breaking the chains of millions across the Third World, both literally and figuratively, in defiance of the racist conceit of apologists for imperialism. From leading a revolution that succeeded against the odds in toppling the pro-Washington dictator, Fulgencio Batista in 1959, he went on to not only make history but mold and shape it thereafter. read full article–
“The attempt to divide art and politics is a bourgeois philosophy which says good poetry, art, cannot be political, but since everything is, by the nature of society, political, even an artist or work that claims not to have any politics is making a political statement by that act.”
IN THE NEWS–
Standing Rock #NODAPL – Standing Rock Responds To Army Corps December 5th Eviction Notice by UprisingTV (Nov. 26, 2016) watch full video–
Standing Rock #NODAPL – Army Corp Closes Public Access to Oceti Sakowin Camp on Dec. 5th by StandWithStandingRock.net (Nov. 26, 2016)
Statement from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Chairman, Dave Archambault II:
“Today we were notified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that on Dec. 5th, they will close all lands north of the Cannonball River, which is where Oceti Sakowin camp is located. The letter states that the lands will be closed to public access for safety concerns, and that they will allow for a “free speech zone” south of the Cannonball River on Army Corps lands.
Our Tribe is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever. We ask that all everyone who can appeal to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to consider the future of our people and rescind all permits and deny the easement to cross the Missouri River just north of our Reservation and straight through our treaty lands. When Dakota Access Pipeline chose this route, they did not consider our strong opposition. Our concerns were clearly articulated directly to them in a meeting on Sept. 30, 2014. We have released that audio recording from our council meeting where DAPL and the ND Public Service Commission came to us with this route…” read full article–
“No soul is desolate as long as there is a human being for whom it can feel trust and reverence.”
IN THE NEWS–
South Central L.A. News – Graffiti Artist Betters the Streets of South Central by Brad Streicher (Nov. 23, 2016)
In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America by Revolution Newspaper (Nov. 9, 2016)
Donald Trump has now won the presidency. Under the slogan “Make America Great Again,” he has viciously attacked Mexicans and Muslims, threatened to deport millions and boasted that he will build walls and close borders. He incites people to fear and hate those who are “different,” or who come from other countries or nationalities, or practice different religions. He crudely demeans and degrades women, and openly boasts about molesting them. He’s a champion of white supremacy who has insulted and threatened Black people, and whipped up a racist lynch-mob mentality. Trump has mocked the disabled. He is an aggressive and unapologetic militarist, who threatens to use nuclear weapons and will have his fingers on the nuclear codes. He openly advocates war crimes and crimes against humanity—including torture and killing the families of people accused of terrorism. He plans to pack the Supreme Court with justices who will gut and reverse the right to abortion, gay rights, and other important legal rights. read full article–
POEMA DE LA SEMANA/POEM OF THE WEEK–
“El más hermoso mito inventando por el hombre”
El más hermoso mito inventando por el hombre
más hermoso que Dios
o el hermoso ideal del socialismo
y el dinero que acumulan los ricos.
Más hermoso que el odio, la invención más hermosa.
-Ana Maria Rodas, poeta y periodista guatelmateca (Poemas de la Izquierda Erotica, 1973)