Friday, February 24, 2012

Iraqi Dried-Apricot Wrap

College-aged girl taking a class in comparative religion is cute:
Here, have some of my Iraqi dried-apricot wrap. I got it at the new Babylonian store. I also get this Russian fruit drink there too. Now, I'm off to read the Koran.

DMTC - "Damn Yankees" - Opens Tonight!






The Geography Of Fame

I can think of at least three reasons at the moment why the geography of fame important.

First, friend and fellow DMTC Stage Manager Julia Thompson has been invited to walk the red carpet at the Oscars. Yay! As she states on Facebook:
For those of you who have been waiting on pins and needles with me...THE DRESS IS HERE! I have held it in my hands! I have tried it on and it is more than I could have imagined!
Second, Facebook friend and dance singer Kelsey B is heading to Miami next month for the Winter Music Conference. Yay! As she states on Facebook:
coming to Miami soon to perform for y'all!!
Plus, yesterday, I learned on KFBK radio that Jessica Chastain, who has received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for "The Help", attended El Camino High School in Sacramento. A hometown girl in the running!

So, what is it that's important regarding the geography of fame? The art of getting photographed:
The Oscars are a key part of the secret economy of celebrity. A glance at the glossies at the grocery check-out aisle makes it clear that how and where a celebrity gets photographed can catapult — or sink — a career.

...Say you’re a film actor struggling to be taken seriously or trying to recreate your image. The tragic Lohan, the waning Hilton or the precipitously hanging on Kardashian come to mind. For celebrities who don’t have a lot of talent, the key to stardom is getting your picture taken many times over.

...But frequency is only part of the story. Where one gets photographed is also reflective of one’s stardom. We find that 80 percent of all photos are taken in just three cities that comprise the backbone of the celebrity circuit: Los Angeles, New York and London.

...For those whose stardom relies on non-stop media attention, the most valuable places to be photographed are Los Angeles and Florida broadly drawn. Gold standard stars such as Oscar winners and nominees Jolie, Nicholson, George Clooney and Brad Pitt literally live in a different world. The geography of stardom for talented stars extends to Tokyo, Paris, Cannes and Madrid, where they show up for movie premiers, film festivals and gala events. With very little effort and not too much travel, they are guaranteed to draw crowds of fans, which is why cities far from Hollywood bother to host major events around them.

So what does all this camera flashing tell us about the Oscars? Ironically, despite the fact that the Oscars are a celebration of the best and brightest in Hollywood, our research suggests that for talent-driven stars there is little career need to show up at all. Those A-listers not nominated won’t gain or lose anything from walking the red carpet, other than perhaps ending up on a best-dressed or worse-dressed list, while those in the running for an award might as well have it couriered and avoid the traffic on Sunset Boulevard. After all, once a star ends up being nominated or winning an Oscar, they are catapulted to the top echelons of Hollywood elite, which means they should be spending less time in Los Angeles and more time at events around the globe (or signing on to the next Harvey Weinstein production).

For media-driven stars, it’s another story all together. Statistically speaking, Los Angeles is the most valuable place in the world to uphold their celebrity status and the Oscars is the zenith of this ritual. In the days and weeks after the ceremony, pages and pages of glossy tabloids are devoted to an event that may ostensibly be about talent but is, for the rest of the world, primarily about celebrity.

...To us folks eating pizza and watching on our flat screens, Oscar night seems like a grand, cohesive affair, with the industry’s most talented actors receiving praise from their peers for their work and contributions to film as art. But adulation is one thing, the business of celebrity is another. For the vast majority of those in attendance, showing up and being photographed is all that counts.

More Sunland Park Dirty Tricks?

My kind of New Mexico scandal. Still, anything scandalous anywhere near the border worries me, because the opportunities for really-serious corruption are boundless there:
The race to replace a New Mexico mayor — who once signed $1 million in architecture contracts while drunk — is now plagued with allegations that one candidate tried to set up another by hiring a topless dancer to go to his office, and have the incident filmed.

Gerardo Hernandez of Sunland Park, New Mexico told KVIA-TV that he was meeting with his campaign manager and a job applicant in his office, when a topless woman came in and began to dance for them. “She started dancing and she was suggestive,” he said.

Hernandez claims that the man he was meeting with, a “Mexican national fleeing threats south of the border [who] offered to assist his campaign,” according to the Associated Press, brought the woman to the meeting. He then put on some music and said she liked to dance, which she proceeded to do. “As any gentleman would know, it was a lap dance,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez claims that the woman was sent by his opponent in the Sunland Park mayoral race, Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Salinas, who he says is trying to strong-arm him out of the race by threatening to release a tape of the incident. Hernandez says he was approached by a man who “said, ‘We have a video of you and we’re going to release it if you don’t withdraw from the race.’ And I said, ‘Well, you can release it, because I’m not going to withdraw from the race.’”

“[Hernandez] is going come up with a lot of excuses,” Salinas said. “He’s a married man, so I’d be thinking of a couple of excuses and try to blame this on different people and trying to make up my little story.”

Catching Up With Li Cunxin

Caption: Li Cunxin, pictured with Queensland Ballet dancer Teri Crilly, will take over from Francis Klaus as the ballet's artistic director, starting in July. Picture: Jack Tran Source: The Australian








This is interesting. Going through old programs, I discovered recently that I saw Li Cunxin perform, once, when I lived in Arizona, around 1988. This was before the big movie (which I wrote about here) came out, of course, and before I quite appreciated his stature:
He was born in poverty in China, became a world ballet star, segued into stockbroking, wrote a best-selling memoir, took on a sideline in motivational speaking and, as of yesterday, is artistic director-elect of Queensland Ballet.

...Li's early life is well known from the international success of his book Mao's Last Dancer, adapted by director Bruce Beresford in 2009. The story ended as he was about to join the Australian Ballet, from which he retired as a principal artist in 1999. Li went on to be a senior manager at Melbourne stockbroker Bell Potter, an AB board member, and a corporate guest speaker. Forty-one candidates vied for the QB job, 20 of whom were Australian and the others from Europe, the US, Africa and New Zealand. QB chair Joan Sheldon cited Li's "extraordinary career, international reputation, networks and commercial experience" as reasons for their choice.

...Li has a four-year contract with QB, but said he was looking forward to "the next five, 10, 15 years" in dance. "This is an opportunity to roll my sleeves up, to do something tangible," he said.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tyranny Of The Clock

Cat people defend themselves in Auckland, NZ:
When the SPCA raided Cruickshank's house in December 2010, they allegedly found dozens of live cats living in filthy conditions and 38 dead ones in a freezer.

...Cruickshank said in court yesterday he still wants to argue his case. It was earlier reported he kept the dead cats in the freezer because he did not have time to bury them in coffins.

Paraphrasing The Quote Misattributed To Stalin: The Loss Of One Dollar Is A Tragedy, The Loss Of 500 Billion Dollars Is A Statistic

Fun with numbers:
When I was watching the debate last night I did a double-take when I heard Newt say that ‘reforming’ the federal Civil Service system could save “a minimum of $500 billion a year.”

...Well, we looked into it and it turns out that the federal government’s entire payroll, even including the military, came to just $432.6 billion in fiscal 2011. In other words, if you fired everyone who works for the federal government you couldn’t save $500 billion.

Analysts Not Surprised

I like this meme: "Analysts Not Surprised". No, analysts are never surprised by just about anything:
This week, GameWorks announced it would close, and those who watch trends on the Strip say that trying to make Vegas a family travel destination was a business model that didn’t play here.

...“Los Angeles makes up a big part of our market, and they’ve got Disneyland and Universal Studios,” said Stephen Brown, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV. “You have to ask: Why would somebody drive four hours for family entertainment that can’t compete with what they have at home?”

Everyone Loves Cheap Basmati Rice

And love for the United States of America won't get you a cup of coffee:
DAYTON, Texas - The talk of the day among Ray Stoesser and other rice farmers is Iraq's decision not to buy U.S. rice, a stinging move that adds to a stressful year punctuated by everything from drought to unusual heat.

..."That's just not right," the 63-year-old Stoesser fumed. "If we've got some rice to sell, they ought to pay a premium for it just because this is the country that freed them."

Iraq imports most of its rice, about 1 million metric tons per year, making it a significant player in the global market. In the past decade, about 10 percent to 15 percent of that total came from the United States. But Iraq hasn't bought any U.S. rice since late 2010.

..."Iraq seems to be buying on price, and the lowest offered price is coming now from India," Aaronson said.

In Iraq, officials said the decision to forego American rice largely came down to a matter of taste. A Trade Ministry official said Iraq has decided to import only long-grain basmati rice from India due to its wide acceptance nationwide and cheap price.

"We have no problem with the U.S. rice specifically, which was widely acceptable by Iraqis, but we are seeing a demand for the Indian rice rather than others, which is also bought in good prices," he added.

...Iraq had accounted for about 2 percent to 5 percent of U.S. sales each year. It stopped buying American rice during the Gulf War in the early 1990s and in 2003, when the most recent war started, Aaronson said. Every other year, though, during the war, insurgency and U.S. occupation, the Iraqi Grain Board bought American rice.

Iraq's abandonment of U.S. rice comes as Haiti, once an exclusively American market, and Central America, another major buyer, also seek cheaper options elsewhere.

The lost sales sting because the U.S., unlike China and other major rice-growing nations, exports nearly half of its crop. With less demand from overseas, prices have dropped while production costs, including for fuel, have risen.

La Niña Almost Neutral Now

Not that it's much use for almost the worst; the most wretchedly-dry winter in California's history.

The Crack In The Glacier

At The Celebrity Impersonator Convention

Where everyone looks familiar:





Nash, though, is truly happy. After years of struggle in showbiz, he’s made it, with a four-night-a-week gig emceeing at Hooter’s, doing impressions of De Niro, Christopher Walken, Dean Martin and Louis Armstrong, among many others.

“I’ve finally come into my own,” he says. When I point out the paradox of coming “into my own” with personalities that aren’t his, he brightens: “Yes, exactly!”

Deborah Gets The Cover

Deborah reports on Facebook:
One of my odd Falling Ladies was chosen by small arts press, Red Hen, for the cover of a volume of poetry coming out in March. Finally!

People Who Speak Strong Future-Time Languages Don't Save Much

Interesting observation:



Suzy Khimm reports on a fascinating new bit of research about the effect of language on people's tendency to save for the future:

Kevin Chen examined two groups of languages in a new working paper: languages that use words like “shall” or “will” to indicate the future, and languages that frequently rely on context rather than a separate verb tense for the future. Speakers of the first set of languages, like Greek, Italian, and English, tend to see the present and future as more disconnected. By contrast, languages that don’t grammatically distinguish between present and future events, like German, Finnish and Mandarin, “lead their speakers to take more future-oriented actions.”

Chen points to a long body of research showing that grammar can affect cognition and ultimately behavior, and discovers that speakers of German and other weak future-time reference languages are inclined to behave as though the future is an extension of the present: They’re 30 percent more likely to save in any given year, have more retirement savings, and are better at taking care of their long-term health.

Filming Starts On Season 5 Of "Breaking Bad"

OldeSaultie sent a note last night:
Just posted tonight on "The Lost Room" forum by our inside man:
Hey gang...just a quick update! Started on Breaking Bad Season 5 today! It's going to be a great interesting season!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

History, And The Opening Scenes Of "Breaking Bad"

I'm a big fan of the TV series "Breaking Bad", and I was pleased to see the eye-catching opening scenes of the TV series take place in To'hajiilee (formerly Cañoncito), the outlier Navajo reservation northwest of Albuquerque.


I always felt a little bit puzzled by the choice of To'hajiilee as a filming location. There are a number of sound practical and cinematic reasons to film in To'hajiilee, but there is also a deeper history to the area. I wondered if the writers of TV show were trying to make a deeper statement about "Breaking Bad", perhaps by using the history of To'hajiilee as a form of foreshadowing about the show's conclusion at the end of Season 5.

In a way, despite its modernity, "Breaking Bad" is a parable about the Old West. Like William Faulkner said: "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

First, the practical reasons why To'hajiilee makes sense as a filming location.

The closest approach of the Colorado Plateau to the city of Albuquerque, where "Breaking Bad" is filmed, is the area around To'hajiilee, and so if you want to incorporate that classic, panoramic red-sandstone-mesa look of the Southwest's Colorado Plateau into your TV show, and still minimize travel distance and thus remain on-budget, To'hajiilee is an obvious place you would want to film.


Still, there is that deeper layer of history....

------------
This insert is from March 12, 2014:

For me, Pekka Hämäläinen's book, "The Comanche Empire" (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2008), opened a new window to view what had become of interest: how the Diné ‘Ana’í of the Navajo came to ally themselves, first with the Spaniards, and then with the Mexicans and Americans, against the rest of the Navajo. All of this composes the "Miasma" (classic Greek term) that prefigures the opening and conclusion of the television series "Breaking Bad" at To'hajiilee.

Here are some extended quotes from Hämäläinen's book:
[p. 107] On February 25, 1786, Juan Bautista de Anza, lieutenant colonel in the Spanish Army and the governor of New Mexico, stood in front of his palace, preparing himself for the ceremony. He had waited for this moment too long, ever since the glorious day on the llanos seven years ago when he held the green-horned headdress in his hands [headdress trophy from his defeat of Comanche chief Cuerno Verde in 1779]. The memory of his triumph was already growing faint, making his gubernatorial tenure seem like a failure, but now there was hope again. He examined his subjects - hispanos, indios, genízaros, men, women, children - who swarmed in the dirt plaza, filling it with nervous expectation. Then the crowd shivered, erupting into shrieks and yells, and Anza saw him. Ecueracapa, the capitan general of the western Comanches, emerged at the end of a corridor of shouting people. The Indian rode slowly toward him, flanked by three adjutants and escorted by a column of Spanish soldiers and Santa Fe's most prominent citizens. He calmly crossed the square, dismounted in front of Anza, and gently embraced him. It was there, in the arms of the man he could think of only as a savage, that Anza knew there would be peace.
The Comanches were desirous of peace because they faced renewed hostilities with other tribes, and they had been suddenly weakened by epidemics. Ecueracapa made the peace overtures, starting in December 1785. Having captured Chiquíto, an Indian member of a plains-bound Spanish hunting party who also spoke Comanche, Ecueracapa:
[pp. 118-119] called together four consecutive councils to discuss details of peace talks and, having reached an agreement with the other chiefs, sent Chiquíto and two Comanche envoys to inform Anza that he would be arriving shortly in Santa Fe.

The announcement electrified the Southwest, where news traveled quickly....

Word of the forthcoming Comanche-Spanish negotiations also reached the Utes, who were outraged by the new Spanish policy. Having nurtured a stable and mutually beneficial alliance with New Mexico since mid-century - an alliance that had been sustained by common dread of the Comanches - they now feared that Comanche-Spanish rapprochement would leave them marginalized and exposed to Comanche violence. They met with Anza and "heatedly declared against the attempted peace, advancing the most vindictive and even insulting and barbarous arguments against it, even stating to the chief, Anza, that he preferred frequent, unfaithful rebels to friends always obedient and faithful."
Anza took quick advantage of the new arrangement:
[pp. 123-124] The Comanche treaty was a momentous coup for Anza and it gave him leverage to enter into negotiations with the powerful Navajos who dominated a vast territory west of New Mexico. In March 1786, only weeks after the conclusion of the Comanche talks, Anza invited Navajo leaders to a peace conference. His objective was to pacify the Navajos by forcing them to resign their alliance with the Gileño Apaches, and he had laid the ground for this move a year before when he banned all trade between the Navajos and the inhabitants of New Mexico. Now eighty Navajos came to meet him in Santa Fe, where, significantly, a small Comanche delegation was also present. When the talks between Anza and Navajo leaders began in the Governor's Palace, two Comanches, at Anza's request, made a surprise entrance "so that the Navajos, having seen them, might be moved by fear and respect they have for this warlike nation." According to Garrido's report, one of the Comanches demanded that the Navajos become Spain's allies, lest "the forces of the Comanches as good allies and friends of the Spaniards would come and exterminate them. He menaced and terrorized them so much that with the same submission which the governor [received] they replied to the Comanches that they would fail in nothing agreed upon." The Navajos agreed to a treaty in which they pledged to sever ties with the Gileños, form a military alliance with Spain, and enter a nonaggression pact with the Comanches. The resulting borderlands détente, midwifed by Comanches, served Comanche interests as much as it served Spanish ones: if Comanches were to develop closer commercial interests with New Mexico, they needed the colony to be safe and prosperous.
The Spanish appointment of Don Carlos of the Cebolleta branch of the Navajo as "chief of the Navajos" was in 1786 - likely at this very meeting. Despite his rank, the other Navajo leaders did not submit to Don Carlos as their leader. The Navajos were more-atomized and politically not as well-organized as the Comanches. Ecueracapa, through incessant travel and diplomatic activities all across Comanchería, had achieved a first-among-equals sort of rank among Comanches, and could speak broadly for most of them. Don Carlos couldn't, but the 1786 meeting was the start of a process whereby the Diné ‘Ana’í slowly came to identify their interests more-closely with the Spanish than with their fellow Navajo, which culminated with Joaquín's separation of the Cebolleta band from the rest of the Navajo in order to negotiate a separate peace, in about 1818. One can imagine that hastening trade with the Americans, eastward, across what would become the Santa Fe Trail, made good relations with the Spaniards more important than ever to sustain. And the vulnerable Cebolleta band was located on the eastern flanks of what was to become Mt. Taylor, squarely between the Spanish and the rest of the Navajo.

And so, what was the Spanish method to induce compliance? Hämäläinen continues:
[p. 132] Rather than trying to incorporate or contain indigenous societies, the new objective was to transform them into an entity that Spanish agents could understand, manage, and control. ... Bourbon officials had initially thought that more authoritative Comanche leaders were needed to unite unruly Indians behind peace treaties, but once the treaties were formalized, the officials reconceived political centralization as a means to subdue their new allies. Inspired by pragmatic visions of a consolidated New Spain, the Bourbon officials had concluded that they never could bring the empire to Comanchería. Instead, they resolved to bring the Comanches into the empire.

Bourbon officials applied the centralizing pressure most systematically on the western Comanches, whose continued loyalty they considered critical for the survival of New Mexico and, by extension, the silver provinces of northern New Spain. The policy was first articulated by Anza in 1786 when he argued that by elevating Ecueracapa "above the rest of his class" Spaniards could reduce the entire Comanche nation to vassalage. The idea was to create a well-defined hierarchical structure extending from the principal chiefs to the bottom of Comanche society through strategic distribution of political gifts. Accordingly, Spanish officials in New Mexico and Texas funneled vast amounts of gifts among the Comanches through Ecueracapa and other head chiefs, hoping to originate a downward flow of presents from Spanish authorities to principal chiefs, local band leaders, and commoners and, conversely, an upward-converging dependency network on top of which stood the king of Spain. The institution of principal chieftainship, as Pedro Garrido explained was "the most appropriate instrument that we could desire for the new arrangement of peace, not only to assure the continuance of the peace of the peace celebrated, but also to subject the warlike Comanche nation to the dominion of the king."
In the end, the Spanish were mostly-happy with their compact with the Comanche, and how well they controlled the Comanche. On the part, the Comanche were also happy with the compact, and with how well they controlled the Spanish. Nevertheless, the Spanish policy was never successful in reducing the Comanches to actual dependency. The Spanish simply needed the Comanche more than the Comanche needed the Spanish. Most of the Navajos were also resistant to dependency. It was only the portions of the Navajo nation that were physically closest to the Spaniards that eventually did succumb.



End insert from March 12, 2014; resume text from February 22, 2012.

------------


There is an excellent book regarding the Navajo (also known as the Diné), portions of which are available online by Google Books for purchase: Spider Woman Walks This Land: Traditional Cultural Properties and the Navajo, by Kelli Carmean.

I quote below from specific specific passages, starting with a general overview of the Navajo, starting in the late 1700's:
Even though the Spanish largely ignored the Navajo, it does not mean the Navajo were spared from conflict. Throughout this time the Navajo were victims of slave raids from Utes, Comanches, Kiowas and Spaniards acting outside of official Spanish law. Although Spain had forbidden the enslavement of Indians, Spanish colonists felt free to ignore a mandate handed down from far across the Atlantic. Political leaders in the colonies supported the slave trade and the majority even actively participated. Sometimes the leaders kept the Indian captives in their own households, other times they gave the slaves away to gain political favors or to strengthen friendships. Although slave raiding was endemic to much of pre-contact Indian society, it increased greatly with the arrival of the Spanish, as they were ever-willing buyers and required vast numbers of slaves to work the silver mines of Mexico (McNitt 1972). To complicate the picture even more, periods of friendly trade relations beneficial to all existed as intervals of peace alternated with raiding. Thus, life in the southwest was hardly peaceful or predictable from anyone’s perspective.

...

Before European contact and indeed well into the 1800s, there was no political entity that could be described as the Navajo “tribe.” The highest degree of political unity that occurred was a periodic, regional assembly of local leaders, called the Naachid (Wilkins 1999). This gathering was a combination of ceremony – dancing and prayers for good crops – and political discussions, attesting to the interwoven nature of religion and politics. Women could speak freely at these gatherings and Naachid decisions were not binding on anyone present. The last Naachid was reportedly held in the 1850s or 1860s, before Navajo removal to Bosque Redondo. The overall lack of political unity can best be seen in raiding patterns: Navajos were just as likely to raid other Navajos as they were to raid Pueblos or other Indians (who were equally likely to raid the Navajo). Although all Navajo people shared a common language and culture, they were not politically unified and thus did not act as one group until the reservation era.

Coming from a stratified society where leadership was based either on heredity or formal appointment, the Spanish, Mexicans, and later the Americans were unwilling to accept the uncertainties of the egalitarian Navajo political system. The colonists wanted Indian leaders who could speak for the entire tribe, make treaties, enforce decisions, and punish those individuals who did not abide by the treaties. In an optimistic but futile effort to change the Navajo political system, first the Spanish and later the Americans simply appointed political leaders for the Navajo. Not surprisingly, the colonists appointed those individual Navajo headmen who were amenable to Spanish demands.

In 1786, the Spanish appointed Don Carlos, the first in a long line of appointed Navajo “chiefs” (Acrey 2000). Don Carlos was a headman from the Cebolleta area of New Mexico – which was much closer to the major Spanish settlements of Albuquerque and Santa Fe than were the majority of Navajo – who by this time had moved west into northeastern Arizona, in part to escape repeated slave raids. Due to the proximity of the Cebolleta band to the Spanish settlements, Don Carlos, as well as subsequently appointed “chiefs,” firmly believed that the Spanish were too strong a force to fight and that the only hope the Navajo had for survival was to forge a peace with them. Living closer to the Spaniards, it is likely that this group bore the brunt of Spanish retaliatory raids. Not surprisingly, the appointment of Don Carlos as “chief” was not recognized by the main body of Navajo.

By 1818, while the Mexicans struggled to gain their independence from Spain, the Navajo’s internal schism was solidified when Joaquin, also of the Cebolleta band, was appointed “chief.” From this point on, Joaquin separated his band from the rest of the Navajo in order to independently negotiate a peace. His band even fought alongside the Spanish, and later the Mexicans, against other Navajos. Bitter over this betrayal, the Navajo gave Joaquin and his band the name Diné ‘Ana’í (Enemy Navajo). The motives of the Diné ‘Ana’í are often debated (McNitt 1972; Trafzer 1982). Some scholars argue that the Enemy Navajo sued for peace because they considered fighting the Spanish fruitless; others contend that Joaquin and his followers aligned themselves with the Spanish for self-gain, profiting from increased access to livestock and slaves. Under several different leaders, the Diné ‘Ana’í served as scouts and soldiers for the Spanish, and after 1821, for the Mexicans. They would also fight with the next group to seek control of the Southwest, the Americans, thus contributing to the final military defeat of the Navajo.


The Diné ‘Ana’í were hardly the only people in history to discover that they had certain interests more in common with their neighbors than with their more-remote relatives, and they suffered much abuse for acting upon this discovery. Perhaps to the rest of the Navajo, the Diné ‘Ana’í had 'broken bad,' but the reasons were understandable.


Nevertheless, some people tried harder than others to exploit the possibilities provided by the new system of power: particularly a fellow named Sandoval, who strikes me as a sort of Heisenberg of the Southwest, who used his leadership position to push harder than ever for advantages for his band, just as Walter White uses his chemistry skills and his control over Jesse in "Breaking Bad" to gain more and more command over the underground drug realm.


One of the most important events in the troubled history of Navajo/American relations had a Diné ‘Ana’í angle. There is another excellent book regarding the Navajo, portions of which are available online by Google Books for purchase: Canyon de Chelly, Its People and Rock Art, by Campbell Grant. The Google Reader is here: I quote below from specific passages regarding the Calhoun/Washington expedition of 1849 to the Navajo chief Narbona:




The expedition left Santa Fe August 16, and during the wait at Jemez for the rest of the party, Simpson and Edward Kern saw the Pueblo Green Corn Dance. Several days later Washington’s force of roughly 500 men began their movement west toward the Chuska Mountains. The chief guide for the movement into the Navajo heartland was Antonio Sandoval, chief leader of the Diné ‘Ana’í, or enemy Navajo. Their route took them through Chaco Canyon, a difficult route for the artillery and dragoons. The ruins in the canyon fascinated Simpson, who described them in great detail in his report. He also noted hieroglyphics (petroglyphs) on large sandstone boulders.

On August 30, contact was made with numbers of the Navajo in the Tunicha Valley, and the following day Washington began talks with some of the headmen. Among them was the venerable Narbona, a much respected leader, whom the Anglos mistook for the “head chief of the Navajo,” and two other prominent men, Jose Largo and Archuleta, both of whom had been signers of the Doniphan treaty. Colonel Washington and Agent Calhoun asked the chiefs to assemble the leading men of the tribe at the mouth of Canyon de Chelly, where a lasting treaty of peace could be signed. All were agreeable to this, and the meeting was about to break up when an incredible incident occurred.

A Pueblo Indian irregular claimed to have spotted one of his horses in the Navajo party. On hearing this, Colonel Washington demanded that the animal immediately be returned or he would order his troops to fire on the Navajo. After receiving this hostile ultimatum, the Diné began to ride off, receiving rifle and cannon fire as they fled. The result of this unbelievably stupid move on Washington’s part was that six Navajo warriors were mortally wounded and the headman Narbona was killed. From that moment, the Navajo put no further trust in the Anglo-Americans, considering them as treacherous as their ancient enemies, the Mexicans.

I just think Sandoval was pushing his luck by getting mixed up with this expedition. In part through his efforts, Sandoval got Narbona killed, a case of overreach that may be analogous to how Walt gets Gus killed in "Breaking Bad". (It's interesting about the coincidence of names too: the Navajo headman Archuleta, and the janitor in Walt's school, Mr. Archuleta, whose job and freedom Walt sacrifices without a moment's hesitation).

In any event, this political system based on infighting eventually shattered when the Navajo were brought under the ethnic-cleansing sway of fanatical General Carleton by his able assistant, the former Mountain Man, Kit Carson. All Diné were crushed, whatever their association with the Americans.



Above: Brig. Gen. James Henry Carleton, who presided for a time as New Mexico's virtual dictator, and whose Utopian visions for the Navajo ended up decimating the tribe.


In his book about Kit Carson, "Blood and Thunder: The epic story of Kit Carson and the conquest of the American West", Hampton Sides writes about Brig. Gen. James Henry Carleton:
For the next four years he would preside over New Mexico virtually as a dictator. But he was an uncommon kind of despot: a Puritan schoolmaster with a zeal for social engineering, a martinet of the cod liver-oil dispensing, this-is-for-your-own-good variety. He was a utopian in an odd sense, and a Christian idealist. Carleton saw a perfect world on the horizon but could not imagine the real-world horrors that would be required to reach it."

Quoting from Wikipedia:
On October 31, 1862, Congress authorized the creation of Fort Sumner. General James Henry Carleton initially justified the fort as offering protection to settlers in the Pecos River valley from the Mescalero Apaches, Kiowa, and Comanche. He also created the Bosque Redondo reservation, a 40-square-mile (100 km2) area where over 9,000 Navajo and Mescalero Apaches were forced to live because of accusations raiding white settlements near their respective homelands. The fort was named for General Edmond Vose Sumner.

The stated purpose of the reservation was for it to be self-sufficient, while teaching Mescalero Apaches and Navajos how to be modern farmers. General Edward Canby, whom Carleton replaced, first suggested that the Navajo people be moved to a series of reservations and be taught new skills. Some in Washington, D.C. thought that the Navajos did not need to be moved and a reservation should be created on their land. Some New Mexico citizens encouraged death or at least complete removal of the Navajo off their lands. The 1865 and 1866 corn production was sufficient, but in 1867 it was a total failure. Army officers and Indian Agents realized that the Bosque Redondo was a failure, offering poor water and too little firewood for the numbers of people who were there. The Mescaleros soon ran away; the Navajos stayed longer, but in May 1868 were permitted to return to Navajo lands.

Gen. Carleton ordered Col. Christopher "Kit" Carson to do whatever necessary to bring first the Mescaleros and then the Navajos to the Bosque Redondo. All of the Mescalero Apache were there by the end of 1862, but the Navajo did not get there in large numbers until early 1864. The Navajos refer to the journey from Navajo land to the Bosque Redondo as the Long Walk. While a bitter memory to many Navajo, one who was there reports as follows: “By slow stages we traveled eastward by present Gallup and Shushbito, Bear spring, which is now called Fort Wingate. You ask how they treated us? If there was room the soldiers put the women and children on the wagons. Some even let them ride behind them on their horses. I have never been able to understand a people who killed you one day and on the next played with your children...?"

There were about 8,500 Navajo and 500 Mescalero Apaches interned at Bosque Redondo in April 1865. The Army had only anticipated 5,000 would be there, so food was an issue from the start. The Navajo and Mescalero Apache had long been enemies and now that they were in forced proximity to each other, fighting often broke out. The environmental situation got worse. The interned people had no clean water, it was full of alkaline and there was no firewood to cook with. The water from the nearby Pecos River caused severe intestinal problems and disease quickly spread throughout the camp. Food was also in short supply because of crop failures, Army and Indian Agent bungling, and criminal activities. In 1865, the Mescalero Apaches, or those strong enough to travel, managed to escape. The Navajo were not allowed to leave until May, 1868 when it was agreed by the U.S. Army that Fort Sumner and the Bosque Redondo reservation was a failure.

A treaty was negotiated with the Navajos and they were allowed to return to their homeland, to a "new reservation." There they were joined by the thousands of Navajo who had been hiding out in the Arizona hinterlands. This experience resulted in a more determined Navajo, and never again were they surprise raiders of the Rio Grande valley. In subsequent years they have expanded the "new reservation" into well over 16 million acres (65,000 km²), far larger than Yellowstone National Park with 2 million acres (8,000 km²).
And as Carmean also writes:
Between 1864 and 1868, just over 8,000 Navajos were taken to Bosque Redondo. This number was much greater than the military had expected; their resources were overwhelmed and their facilities incapable of dealing with so many people, especially a people already worn down both physically and psychologically from Kit Carson’s campaigns and the Long Walk. Although Carleton’s plan was to have the Navajo build irrigation canals and grow their own food, this plan was never successful and the crop failed each year. Completely dependent on the government for food, Navajo rations were tight. Local Anglo merchants, knowing they had a monopoly for government supplies in isolated eastern New Mexico, price-gouged the Army, providing a minimum quantity of food for maximum prices. Navajo oral histories tell of eating flour crawling with bugs and boiling shoe leather for meat because they had no choice.

...

As can be imagined, many problems existed at Bosque Redondo. The Navajo joined an estimated four hundred Mescalero Apaches, traditional enemies of the Navajo, also confined to the reservation. The Diné ‘Ana’í were also there; indeed, since they put up no resistance, they were the first to go to the Bosque. Thus, it was difficult to sort out who were the worst enemies – likewise incarcerated Indians or the U.S. Army. Slave raiding against the Navajo continued and any Navajo that wandered just a little too far in search of firewood was picked up by Kiowas and Comanches lying in wait. The Navajo, of course, were weaponless.
And so, how were the terrible tensions among the Navajo resolved? By physical separation:
After the June 1 signing of the treaty of 1868, the Navajo prepared to return to their homeland. They returned to Navajoland just as they had departed – walking. On June 18, the first and largest return group moved slowly out of Fort Sumner, a column stretching ten miles long.

As the column neared Fort Wingate, near present-day Gallup, New Mexico, three small but important groups split off from the main return party. Two of these groups were composed of the Diné ‘Ana’í. Even during the four-year stay at Fort Sumner, these internal divisions did not heal, and these Navajo split off from the main body and went to live on their own, eventually becoming known as the Cañoncito Band. Another group of Diné ‘Ana’í spilt off and headed south, eventually becoming known as the Alamo Band. The Ramah Band also emerged at this time, as other returning Navajo went to join relatives who had escaped from Bosque Redondo some time earlier. Today, the Navajo reservation still includes these three Navajo enclaves removed from the main reservation. Although the Treaty of 1868 did not allow for such splintering and occupation of nonreservation lands, nothing was done to stop it. It was not until the 1940s and early 1950s that the land occupied by these three geographically isolated groups was converted into reservation land.
And today, Cañoncito is known as To'hajiilee.


Presumably, after 140 years, these tensions among the Navajo have been resolved. Cultural unity is ultimately much-more important than any political division exploited for temporary gain.

Still, it's interesting history. Fanatical visions imposed from above eventually destroyed the temporary advantages of treachery from within. "The past is never dead. It's not even past." And one must remember, To'hajiilee is literally the very ground from which "Breaking Bad" starts.

As Season 5 of "Breaking Bad" starts (the final season), what treachery from within might we expect between Walt and Jesse, and what might eventually shatter the temporary peace reached at the end of Season 4? Will there be a physical separation? Will Skyler take the baby and flee to Colorado, as foretold by her flipping coin (Season 4, Episode 6, 'Cornered')? Is there a fanatical drug lord out there who will arrive to impose his will on Walt and Jesse; perhaps even one of the "cod liver-oil dispensing, this-is-for-your-own-good variety"? Or is Hank, Walt's dogged brother-in-law, the true fanatic, the man who will destroy all in his efforts to set all things right?

[UPDATE (07/16/13): And they return to To'hajiilee?:
Episode 513 -- "To'hajiilee": Things heat up for Walt in unexpected ways. (The title is the name of a Navajo reservation in New Mexico.)]

Susana Martinez's Stylist Says No Way

Susana Martinez can go elsewhere:
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez’s (R) opposition to same-sex marriage has led to her stylist refusing to cut her hair ever again unless she changes her stance.

According to KOB-TV in Alberque, Antonio Darden declined to work on Martinez’s hairdo after cutting her hair three times previously. Darden, who runs Antonio’s Hair Studio in Sante Fe, said Martinez’s office repeatedly called to schedule another appointment with him only to be denied.

...Harden added: “I think it’s just equality, dignity for everyone. I think everybody should be allowed the right to be together. My partner and I have been together for 15 years.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Still Waiting For That Day



From BadTux the Snarky Penguin.

The Education Of Barack Obama

The Very Serious People at the New Republic finally get around to analyzing last summer's debt ceiling negotiation. TNR's idea that the softness of the economy wasn't visible right away is rubbish, of course. It was certainly visible everywhere else, except maybe in the Beltway. This article explains in many, many words what any school kid knew instinctively anyway, that it was pointless to negotiate with the Republicans:
Lew, Sperling, and Reed had served as top Clinton aides when the president had struck a budget deal with Republicans in 1997. The effort had led them to believe another deal was possible now. “The experience we had with the Republican Congress in the mid-nineties was that they came in and didn’t want to reach agreement,” says one Clinton veteran who returned under Obama. “But, by mid-’96, they were pleading with us to agree with them on something.”

Unfortunately, this analogy ignored some fundamental differences between the mid-’90s and 2011. Republicans were less extreme during the Clinton years—and as of 1995, the unemployment rate was under 6 percent. In 2011, on the other hand, the Republicans were in the grips of true fiscal fanaticism while the economy was distressingly fragile. Even if it were possible to eventually strike a deal, the country couldn’t afford a prolonged debate over how to apportion the pain.

In June, the negotiators reached a provisional agreement with Republicans on more than $1 trillion in cuts, and the Obama contingent had begun to believe a much larger deal was in sight. Such a deal, they assumed, would involve Democrats agreeing to modest Medicare cuts in exchange for eliminating a few narrow tax breaks, like those benefiting oil companies and corporate jet owners. “Biden and Sperling and Lew were pretty enthusiastic about where this is going,” recalls one White House official familiar with the negotiations.

...Eventually, one congressional Democrat participating in the negotiations, worried that the conversation had focused too much on cuts for Medicare recipients of modest means, insisted to the Republicans that they could defer the tax discussion no longer. “Why should we be engaged in a conversation asking them to pay more unless you’re talking about closing corporate tax loopholes and special breaks for corporate jets?” he asked.

...“Let me get this right,” Kyl finally said to Lew and Sperling when the discussion flared up again. “You’re saying there are Medicare savings you think would be good policy. But you won’t do them unless we agree to raise taxes?” Lew and Sperling looked back at him stone-faced and simply said, “Yes.” A few days later, on June 23, Cantor and Kyl withdrew from the negotiations. Even the deal the president had deemed insultingly weak was out of reach.

...Under normal circumstances, the logical response to a negotiation in which one’s counterpart walks away from increasingly attractive offers is simply to give up. But, by late July 2011, this was no longer an option. There were less than two weeks before the government’s mounting pile of IOUs ran smack into the debt ceiling, risking global financial calamity. After three and a half months of largely fruitless negotiation, the White House still had to reach agreement with the Republican House.

Not surprisingly, given that Obama was determined to avoid a debt ceiling catastrophe while many Republicans believed hitting the limit might do some good, the eventual deal skewed heavily toward Republican priorities.

...FOR TWO AND A HALF YEARS, Obama had been hatching proposals with an eye toward winning over the opposition. In most cases, all it had gotten him was more extreme demands from Republicans and not even a pretense of bipartisan support. Now, after the searing experience of the deficit deal, he still wanted reasonable, centrist policies. But he was done trying to fit them to the ever-shifting conservative zeitgeist.

...Sperling, who had long been a voice for ambitious policy, took the directive to heart. By the end of the month, his staff had come up with $450 billion worth of proposals to boost the economy, including an expanded version of the payroll tax cut Congress had approved the previous December.

...Obama was finally shedding the caution of his first three years in office. Even before the deficit negotiations collapsed, he'd begun criticizing Republicans for their aversion to “shared sacrifice.” He gave an impassioned speech about economic inequality and vowed to ensure that millionaires paid their fair share in taxes. “It is wrong for Warren Buffett’s secretary to pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett,” he famously said.

For voters contemplating whether he deserves a second term, the question is less and less one of policy or even worldview than of basic disposition. Throughout his political career, Obama has displayed an uncanny knack for responding to existential threats. He sharpened his message against Hillary Clinton in late November 2007, just in time to salvage the Iowa caucuses and block her coronation. He condemned his longtime pastor, Jeremiah Wright, just before Wright’s racialist comments could doom his presidential hopes. Once in office, Obama led two last-minute counteroffensives to save health care reform. But, in every case, the adjustments didn’t come until the crisis was already at hand. His initial approach was too passive and too accommodating, and he stuck with it far too long.

Burqueños Video Goes Viral

Spreading like wildfire....

DMTC - "Damn Yankees" - Monday Night Rehearsal

Michael Ball as Joe Boyd.


"Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo"


Kevin Foster as Joe Hardy and Danielle DeBow as Lola.





Tim Gaffney as Mr. Applegate (aka Satan).


Folks Come To Trim The Tree

For years, the tree by the alley, at the corner of my back yard, has yearned to engulf the power lines above with branches, and was increasingly-successful in its effort to do so. I fretted about how I couldn't stop the tree with the ladders and trimmers in my possession. Every few years, or so, SMUD would send over tree trimmers to keep the problem in check, but I hadn't seen any since the recession started, and I was beginning to think I'd have to figure out some way to do it myself even without appropriate tools: maybe with a trampoline, or something.


On Sunday, tree-trimmers contracted by the electric utility SMUD finally arrived and rebuked the tree for its unseemly ambition.





The folks said that the high voltage power was in the top three lines, arrayed horizontally, and the three lines below those, arrayed vertically. The tree trimmer in the basket didn't touch the top three lines, but he pushed the basket passed the three lines below, and touched all of them. If they carry power, I guess they are insulated.



This is great! Relief for my anxiety at last!







Curiously, the tree trimmers did not touch these branches poking through the lower wires above my next-door-neighbor's shed. I wondered about this: the tree trimmers had the tools and I thought they had the motivation too, but they left the branches alone.

Presumably these lower wires are telephone wires, and not power lines, and thus out of SMUD's immediate interest. Not their department. Maybe the telephone company's department, or my next-door-neighbor's-landlord's department, but not my department, or the tree trimmer's department, or SMUD's department. So, Sunday was not a complete defeat for the tree. The foliage battle goes on!

DMTC - "Damn Yankees" - Tech Week Starts




"Spring Awakening" - Green Valley Theatre Company

On Friday, several of us headed over to the Grange Performing Arts Center in Sacramento, a newly-renovated facility near UC Davis Medical Center, to see "Spring Awakening". A number of young friends and acquaintances who had played in DMTC shows over the years were in this show, and we all wanted to show support, but I think some of us were a bit dubious about how a show set in a boy's school and featuring physical abuse, homosexuality, sex-on-stage, abortion and death would create that precious 'they-lived-happily-ever-after' glow we often ask of musicals.


The starting place was the music, of course. I'm completely-unfamiliar with the music, so, for me, it was a first listen to all of it. I was surprised how edgy and exciting the music was, and appropriate for the show.

The acting was quite good. Elio Guiterrez's youthful rage as Melchior; David Taylor's self-destructive impulses as Moritz; Mary Katherine Cobb's free-spiritedness as Ilse (the most fun role of the entire show, actually); and Mariana Seda's curious and difficult amalgamation of naivete and resignation as Wendla (the hardest role of the entire show, and a real challenge).



I was worried about Mariana and Elio's on-stage sex scene, but it was presented nearly-fully-clothed (with just a glimpse of Elio's ass crack), so I was more-relieved than anything. No clothing malfunctions, or anything. A zero on the nipple scale (unlike the retinal searing we got with Artistic Difference's "Hair" a couple of years ago). In a word, tasteful.



Craig Howard and Kristen Wagner were excellent in their roles as the Adults. This is the first performance I've seen with Denver Skye Vaughn (who must be Pheonix's sister), and she did a fine job as a parental-abuse victim, and who looks like she could do counterculture roles quite well too.

There was a characteristic impatient foot-stamping dance move with this show, whose impatience is reminiscent of nursery school. I like it. I find myself doing it even today. So, you won't necessarily come out of the show humming the tunes, but the instant you don't get your Starbucks order just the way you like it, you'll be stamping the floor in just this characteristic kind of rage.

I asked David Taylor whether he modeled his erect hair style after David Lynch's 'Eraserhead'. He said, no, that he modeled it after the hairstyle of the fellow who played Moritz on Broadway, but which just makes me wonder whether that fellow modeled his hair style after David Lynch's 'Eraserhead'.

French Affair - My Heart Goes Boom



Dance club hit from 2000 caught my attention again!

Bob DeLucia DMTC Bio

Longtime Sacramento community theater personage Bob DeLucia passed away recently, and Jan had asked me to post his biography at DMTC in his memory, but memory being a tricky thing, I had forgotten to do so. Here is that biography.

Bob DeLucia was very active at DMTC from 1985 to 1990.

Joe, The Sleeping Plumber



Late on Friday night, I turned on the TV and was watching the end of "Aliens" with Sigourney Weaver, when I heard a knock on the door. It was Joe The Plumber. I invited him in, and we watched together as Ripley donned her Power Loader exoskeleton and strode to save little girl Newt from the Queen Mama while uttering the immortal words: "Get away from her, you bitch!" I turned to Joe, and he was fast asleep.

What to do with a sleeping plumber? If he can't stay awake through all this he must really be tired. That's the trouble with being quasi-homeless. Any little hint of harbor becomes a welcome opportunity to rest.

Joe snored and slept for about an hour, before finally reviving and moving on his merry way.

The Most Wretched Winter Ever Rumbling To Its End

May as well toss in the towel on this winter.

In Celebration Of The One-Year Anniversary Of The Worst Of Christchurch's Quakes



The humor is a bit grim, but the alternatives are worse:
The suburb of Parklands following the Magnitude 6.3 earthquake on February 22nd, 2011.

Twenty second of February, in the province of Canterbury
We got the shaking of our lives
We've got rivers instead of roads, it was flat now it's full of holes
And we're in silt up to our eyes
There's a fraction liquefaction, there's a fraction liquefaction yeah
Driving 'round is too much trouble, what you need is a great big shovel
There's a fraction liquefaction yeah, oh yeah
Broken sewers and broken pipes, no water we are in strife
Worst part is perching over a hole
Hundreds, hundreds of aftershocks, dirty undies and stinky socks
Just cooking tea is a rigmarole
There's a fraction liquefaction, there's a fraction liquefaction yeah
Cars buried up to their axles, daily life is a great big hassle
There's a fraction liquefaction yeah, oh yeah.
Look for a man with a great big shovel, look for a woman who will lend a hand
When it's rainy it turns to slush, when it's sunny it turns to dust
Christchurch just needs a good steam clean
Looking forward to normality, chokkie bikkie and cup of tea
And running water in my latrine
There's a fraction liquefaction, there's a fraction liquefaction yeah
Neighbourhood is like a ghost town, don't touch anything if it's brown
There's a fraction liquefaction yeah...