Friday, September 22, 2017

Novelist Alexandra Fuller Accused of Cultural Appropriation

Of course.

I just shake my damn head sometimes.

Here's her book, Quiet Until the Thaw: A Novel.

It's on my wish list, and then now I see this, accusations of "cultural appropriation," at the New York Times (where else?), "Alexandra Fuller’s Novel of Lakota Culture May Stir the Appropriation Debate":

A white writer, born in Britain, raised in colonial Africa and residing for years in Wyoming, writes a novel about the Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. In a prefatory note included with advance copies of the book, she cites a three-month visit she made to Pine Ridge in 2011. “For the first time since coming to the United States in the mid-90s, I neither needed to explain myself nor have this world explained to me,” she says. Being on the reservation felt like an “unexpected homecoming, if home is where your soul can settle in recognition.”

The writer is Alexandra Fuller, and from this jolt of recognition she fashioned “Quiet Until the Thaw,” a novel that dives deep into Lakota culture and history. An author of six books of nonfiction who made her name with a searing memoir of her African childhood, Fuller is here a careful inventor: Many of the events she describes, at least one of her central characters and more than a few snippets of dialogue are rooted in fact. The novel is peppered with Lakota words, not all of them easily translatable, and the story she recounts, of a pair of Oglala boys whose lives on the reservation become fatefully entwined, is an impassioned allegory of the long-suffering Lakota people. More subtly, it’s an awed meditation on the lofty conundrums of time and being, and on the ways oppression seeks to blind us to the fundamental interconnectedness of things. Fuller’s novel is like a delicately calibrated tuning fork, resonating at a cosmic pitch.

That she wrests such sweep from a couple of hundred odd pages is itself a bit awe-inspiring. Like Rick Overlooking Horse, one of the two Oglala boys, who speaks only when necessary — by the time he turns 10, “he had uttered, all told, about enough words to fill a pamphlet from the Rezurrection Ministry outfit based out of Dallas, Tex.” — Fuller is terse. She doesn’t narrate so much as poetically distill, into chapters seldom more than a page and a half long, the beauty, violence, poverty, humiliation and resilience that have marked Lakota existence for several hundred years. In one, a young tribal activist travels to Palestine, where she dines on camel with Yasir Arafat and speaks at an event honoring leaders of indigenous groups. “They can rewrite history, and erase our stories. But what my mind hasn’t been allowed to know, my body has always known,” the activist tells her audience. “I am an undeniable, inconvenient body of knowledge. Read me.” She proceeds to stand before the crowd in silence for 15 minutes.

The punch Fuller’s book packs is visceral, but it wears its righteousness with tact, its tone more consolation than jeremiad. At its heart is a bifurcation. Orphaned at birth, Rick Overlooking Horse and another parentless boy, You Choose Watson, are raised in a tar-paper lean-to by Rick Overlooking Horse’s grandmother, Mina, the local midwife. Although not prone to chattiness herself, Mina is disposed, especially when high on Wahupta, to recount to her young charges tribal myths and battle tales, and to instill in them an appreciation for key Lakota precepts regarding the “eternal nature of everything.” “They say you’ve been here from the very start, and you’ll be here to the very end,” she tells her stupefied grandson. “Like that breath you just took. In the beginning, a dinosaur breathed that breath. Then a tree. Then an ant. Then you, now me.”

Mina’s teachings suggest a vision of politics as enlightened forbearance — since what goes around comes around — and Rick Overlooking Horse, assisted by some Wahupta experimentation of his own, comes to embrace this view. He gets sent to Vietnam, where he survives the casual racism of his fellow G.I.s, along with a friendly-fire napalm bomb that solders his dog tag to his chest and vaporizes the rest of his squad. He returns to the reservation resolved “never to lay so much as the tip of a single finger on the diseased currency of the White Man,” and installs himself in a tepee on a patch of empty land.

You Choose, meanwhile, channels his rage into violence. He feigns diabetes to escape the draft, and wanders north, dabbling in odd jobs and drug dealing before returning to the reservation and getting himself elected chairman of his increasingly restive tribe. Here, the disparity between the two men comes into sharp relief. Rick Overlooking Horse, acquiring a reputation for spiritual wisdom, is sought out by addicts, wounded veterans and the lovesick, while You Choose becomes a figure of terror. Like Richard (Dick) Wilson, the notorious chairman of the Oglala Lakota from 1972 to 1976, whom he closely resembles, You Choose plunders tribal funds, sidelines opponents and surrounds himself with a private militia, the Guardians of the Oglala Nation (GOONs). There are bloody clashes over purity (like Wilson, You Choose is of mixed blood) and over colonization (tribe members whose lifestyles are regarded as too white are referred to as “Colonized Indian Asses,” or C.I.A.). The murder rate surpasses that of New York and Detroit.

The conflict culminates in the novel as it did in life, with the 1973 siege at Wounded Knee, where Rick Overlooking Horse and hundreds of other protesters demand You Choose’s removal as tribal chairman and the resumption of treaty negotiations with the federal government. United States marshals descend, thousands of rounds are fired, and both Rick Overlooking Horse and You Choose end up doing jail time...
Keep reading (FWIW).

Herta Müller, The Hunger Angel

I'm reading all kinds of good stuff, but I still come across the most amazing, fascinating things sometimes.

At Amazon, Herta Müller, The Hunger Angel: A Novel.

It was an icy morning in January 1945 when the patrol came for seventeen-year-old Leo Auberg to deport him to a camp in the Soviet Union. Leo would spend the next five years in a coke processing plant, shoveling coal, lugging bricks, mixing mortar, and battling the relentless calculus of hunger that governed the labor colony: one shovel load of coal is worth one gram of bread.

In The Hunger Angel, Nobel laureate Herta Müller calls upon her unique combination of poetic intensity and dispassionate precision to conjure the distorted world of the labor camp in all its physical and moral absurdity. She has given Leo the language to express the inexpressible, as hunger sharpens his senses into an acuity that is both hallucinatory and profound. In scene after disorienting scene, the most ordinary objects accrue tender poignancy as they acquire new purpose―a gramophone box serves as a suitcase, a handkerchief becomes a talisman, an enormous piece of casing pipe functions as a lovers' trysting place. The heart is reduced to a pump, the breath mechanized to the rhythm of a swinging shovel, and coal, sand, and snow have a will of their own. Hunger becomes an insatiable angel who haunts the camp, but also a bare-knuckled sparring partner, delivering blows that keep Leo feeling the rawest connection to life.

Müller has distilled Leo's struggle into words of breathtaking intensity that take us on a journey far beyond the Gulag and into the depths of one man's soul.

Rams Beat 49ers 41-39, Kindling Excitement in Los Angeles (VIDEO)

Could this be a breakout season for the Rams?

Hey, they're a lot better than last year.

At LAT, "Jared Goff, Todd Gurley lead Rams to a wild 41-39 victory over the 49ers."

Danielle Gersh's Fall Weather Forecast

It's the first day of fall season.

Here's the lovely Ms. Danielle's forecast from last night, for KCAL 9 Los Angeles:

Mexico Earthquake: Scenes of Desolation and Hope (VIDEO)

At LAT, "In Mexico, scenes of desolation and hope as the death toll reaches 274":

Scenes of desolation and rejoicing unspooled Thursday at the sites of buildings crumbled by Mexico’s deadly earthquake, which killed at least 274 people and galvanized heroic efforts to reach those trapped.

But a parallel drama transpired as the government announced that there were no missing children in the ruins of a collapsed school — after the country was transfixed for a night and a day by reports of a 12-year-old girl feebly signaling to rescuers from under the rubble.

Outrage ensued over what many Mexicans believed was a deliberate deception.

On Thursday afternoon, the Mexican navy reported that there was no sign that any child was missing and alive in the rubble of the Enrique Rebsamen school on Mexico City’s south side, where at least 19 children and six adults had died. One more adult might still be trapped in the rubble, navy Undersecretary Angel Enrique Sarmiento said at a news conference.

“All of the children are unfortunately dead,” he said, “or safe at home.”

Mexico’s larger tragedy continued to unfold as rescuers in three states, battling grinding fatigue and mountains of rubble, raced against time, keenly aware of ever-dwindling odds of finding people alive beneath the debris after Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 temblor.

The overall confirmed fatality count was expected to climb as more bodies were recovered. Rescuers at sites across the sprawling metropolis of Mexico City used search dogs and calls to the cellphones of those trapped to try to pinpoint the location of anyone who had survived two nights under the remains of damaged buildings.

The harrowing rescue effort at the Enrique Rebsamen school had become a social media sensation when news outlets began reporting intensively about the search for a trapped girl thought to be named “Frida Sofia.”

By Thursday afternoon, authorities said that at least one boy or girl was believed to be alive in the wrecked building but that they were not sure of the child’s name. Then the navy’s announcement dashed any remaining hopes for small survivors.

The confusing Frida Sofia saga took another strange turn Thursday night, when a grim-faced Sarmiento went on live television and sought to explain earlier statements by the navy about the girl. He ended up confusing matters even further.

Earlier Thursday, Sarmiento had insisted that the navy never had any knowledge of a girl who was supposedly trapped in the rubble.

In his evening news conference, however, Sarmiento contradicted the earlier statement, conceding that the navy had distributed reports of a girl surviving inside the school “based on technical reports and the testimony of civilian rescue workers and of this institution.” He offered no explanation for the conflicting accounts, but apologized.

“I offer an apology to Mexicans for the information given this afternoon in which I said that the navy did not have any details about a supposed minor survivor in this tragedy,” Sarmiento, dressed in military fatigues, told reporters at an outdoor news conference.

Sarmiento repeated his earlier assertion that it was possible that someone remained alive in the rubble. But Thursday evening he did not rule out the possibility that it was a child. Mexicans and others following the matter were left perplexed.

“Nonetheless,” Sarmiento added, “the Mexican people should know that as long as the minimum possibility exists that there is someone alive, we will keep on looking with the same determination.”

Both he and a colleague, Maj. Jose Luis Vergara, denied any effort to mislead the public...

Shop Deal of the Day

At Amazon, Today's Deals.

And see, especially, Avantree 40 hr Wireless / Wired Bluetooth 4.0 Over-the-Ear Headphones / Headset with Mic, aptX Hi-Fi, Extra COMFORTABLE and LIGHTWEIGHT, NFC, DUAL Mode - Audition [2-Year Warranty].

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Finally, Mountain House Just In Case...Breakfast Bucket.

BONUS: Günter Grass, The Tin Drum.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

'Crazy on You'

At the Sound L.A., from yesterday morning's drive time.

Heart, "Crazy on You":

Starting with an acoustic guitar intro called "Silver Wheels," the song turns into a fast-paced rock song that was the signature sound of the band in their early years. "Crazy on You" attracted attention both for the relatively unusual combination of an acoustic guitar paired with an electric guitar, and the fact that the acoustic guitarist was a woman – a rarity in rock music during that time. According to co-writer/guitarist Nancy Wilson, who discussed it on an episode of In the Studio with Redbeard that devoted an entire episode to the Dreamboat Annie album, the rapid acoustic rhythm part was inspired by The Moody Blues song "Question."

The song's lyrics tell of a person's desire to forget all the problems of the world during one night of passion. During an interview on Private Sessions, Ann Wilson revealed the song was written in response to the stress caused by the Vietnam War and social unrest in the United States in the early seventies.

Wrapped Around Your Finger
The Police

Black Sabbath
8:34 AM

Don't Stop
Fleetwood Mac
8:31 AM

Peter Gabriel
8:26 AM

Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd
8:21 AM

Somebody to Love
8:16 AM

Highway to Hell
8:12 AM

Crazy On You
8:08 AM

Light My Fire
The Doors
8:01 AM

Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Pat Benatar
7:58 AM

Cold As Ice
7:54 AM

The Boys of Summer
Don Henley
7:53 AM

Legs (Edit Version)
ZZ Top
7:36 AM

Rock'n Me
Steve Miller Band
7:33 AM

Black Dog
Led Zeppelin
7:28 AM

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Jackie Johnson's Chance of Showers Forecast

Ms. Jackie's filling out with her big baby bump.

At CBS News 2 Los Angeles:

Big Shopping Today

At Amazon, Today's Deals.

And especially, Dyson Small Ball Multi Floor Upright Vacuum, Iron/Satin Yellow (Certified Refurbished).

Plus, LIFE Home - 4 Person - 5 Piece Kitchen Dining Table Set - 1 Table, 3 Leather Chairs & 1 Bench Espresso Brown J150232 Espresso.

And, LG Electronics 49UJ6300 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (2017 Model).

More, KIND Breakfast Bars, Peanut Butter, Gluten Free, 1.8 Ounce, 32 Count.

Also, The Bradford Exchange Al Agnew's the Spirit of the Wilderness Leather Jacket Black.

Still more, AmazonBasics Apple Certified Lightning to USB Cable - 6 Feet (1.8 Meters), Black.

BONUS: Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Identity: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback).

How to Exploit the Left’s National Nervous Breakdown

Here's Ace, via Ed Driscoll, at Instapundit, "NEWS YOU CAN USE: The Left’s National Nervous Breakdown, and How to Exploit it Ruthlessly."

Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader Jessica Trainham for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (VIDEO)

She's a hot chick.

Deadly Earthquake Strikes Mexico

Kate Linthicum was in Mexico City and she's lucky she wasn't killed in the temblor.

Here she is, et al., at LAT, "At least 248 killed as powerful 7.1 earthquake strikes central Mexico":

A powerful 7.1 earthquake rocked central Mexico on Tuesday, collapsing homes and bridges across hundreds of miles, killing at least 217 people and sending thousands more fleeing into the streets screaming in a country still reeling from a deadly temblor that struck less than two weeks ago.

Entire apartment blocks swayed violently in the center of Mexico City, including in the historic districts of El Centro and Roma, crumbling balconies and causing huge cracks to appear on building facades.

Panic spread through the city's core; rescue vehicles raced toward damaged buildings, and neighbors took on heroic roles as rescuers.

Firefighters and police officers scrambled to pull survivors from a collapsed elementary and secondary school where children died.

"There are 22 bodies here — two are adults — 30 children are missing and eight other adults missing. And workers are continuing rescue efforts," President Enrique Peña Nieto announced Tuesday night.

At least 86 people were reported killed and 44 buildings severely damaged in the capital alone. Twelve other people died in the surrounding state of Mexico, 71 across the state of Morelos, 43 in Puebla state, four in Guerrero state and one in Oaxaca, according to Mexican officials.

The temblor struck 32 years to the day after another powerful earthquake that killed thousands and devastated large parts of Mexico City — a tragedy that Peña Nieto had commemorated earlier Tuesday.

Around 11 a.m., Julian Dominguez heard alarms sounding in the neighborhood of Iztapalapa, part of a citywide drill to mark the anniversary of the magnitude 8.0 quake. Schools and other buildings evacuated, but he kept working at his computer.

About two hours later, Dominguez, 27, started to feel the building move, and alarms sounded again.

"It started really slowly,” he said, but within seconds it was clear that this was no drill.

Dominguez raced down a flight of stairs. Crowds of people already had gathered outside. Parents were crying, worried for their children still in school.

"It was strange that it fell on the same day … as another earthquake that caused so much damage," Dominguez said.

The federal government declared a state of disaster in Mexico City and dispatched 3,428 troops to affected areas there and in nearby states.

"We are facing a new emergency in Mexico City, in the state of Puebla and Morelos, following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake,” Peña Nieto said, adding that he had asked all hospitals to help care for the injured...