Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Architecture Wednesday: Moderne in Minneapolis

This one of a kind—for Minneapolis because I saw many homes like this in Miami—residence sits on the shores of Cedar Lake. It is also considered to be International Style design because of the alternating effect of ribbons of glass and white stucco on the exterior, the open and light interiors, with amazing views from the back, the curved walls, and translucent glass-block windows.

The first floor features the living room with a double-sided fireplace that opens to a sitting room, a dining area, kitchen and breakfast nook and a family. The second floor has the secondary bedrooms and baths with views to the lake while the entire third  floor is the primary suite including a spacious bedroom, marble bathroom with heated floor and steam shower, sitting room with two-sided fireplace, glass-blocked dressing room, and a private terrace overlooking the lake.

It’s a little South Florida in Minnesota.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

So ... This Happened

The other day, while mindlessly scrolling through the Facebook 'What's Happening in Camden' page, I came upon a picture of a cat up for adoption. Her little face made me stop, and then I saw her name: Rosita.

That was all ... I went home, showed Carlos the photo, said I'd like to see her, and we went to see her and now she's ours. She's a bit younger than we wanted, but the bitch has had a life. She was abandoned at a local motel where some of the longer-term residents fed her. But then she got knocked up and some of the residents took the kittens for their own and Rosita was left behind. Our local Humane Society picked her up and a week later a couple of queens saw her photo and she got a new home.

She's settling in nicely; she's very affectionate, though doesn't like being picked up. And she's a jumper, so we're back to schooling felines on countertop etiquette--stay OFF the counters. She and Consuelo are kind of steering clear of one another right now, though every day they come into closer contact. Of course, that led to a smack from one to the other; I don't know who started it because I just heard the hiss and the two running in opposite directions. But they ate breakfast side-by-side, and without a restraining order so ....

After losing MaxGoldberg and Tuxedo within a half-year of one another, we knew we wanted another cat, if not for us for Consuelo, and so we were lucky enough to find her. She has met Ozzo, too, but his old age, bad eyesight and hearing, means he doesn't really know her, but  he' sniffed her and went back to sleep.

We have Rosita.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Happy Memorial Decoration Day

I have posted this before but I do think it bears repeating.

This is the story of the first Decoration Day, which would become Memorial Day, that occurred down here in South Carolina, where good, sweet, wonderful things do happen.

Enjoy, and Happy Memorial Decoration Day.

"The First Decoration Day"

by David W. Blight, Yale University

Americans understand that Memorial Day, or "Decoration Day," as my parents called it, has something to do with honoring the nation's war dead. It is also a day devoted to picnics, road races, commencements, and double-headers. But where did it begin, who created it, and why?

As a nation we are at war now, but for most Americans the scale of death and suffering in this seemingly endless wartime belongs to other people far away, or to people in other neighborhoods. Collectively, we are not even allowed to see our war dead today. That was not the case in 1865.

At the end of the Civil War the dead were everywhere, some in half buried coffins and some visible only as unidentified bones strewn on the killing fields of Virginia or Georgia. Americans, north and south, faced an enormous spiritual and logistical challenge of memorialization. The dead were visible by their massive absence. Approximately 620,000 soldiers died in the war. American deaths in all other wars combined through the Korean conflict totaled 606,000. If the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, 4 million names would be on the Vietnam Memorial. The most immediate legacy of the Civil War was its slaughter and how remember it.

War kills people and destroys human creation; but as though mocking war's devastation, flowers inevitably bloom through its ruins. After a long siege, a prolonged bombardment for months from all around the harbor, and numerous fires, the beautiful port city of Charleston, South Carolina, where the war had begun in April, 1861, lay in ruin by the spring of 1865. The city was largely abandoned by white residents by late February. Among the first troops to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the Twenty First U. S. Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the formal surrender of the city.

Thousands of black Charlestonians, most former slaves, remained in the city and conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war. The largest of these events, and unknown until some extraordinary luck in my recent research, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the planters' horse track, the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, into an outdoor prison. Union soldiers were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of exposure and disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand. Some twenty-eight black workmen went to the site, re-buried the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, "Martyrs of the Race Course."

Then, black Charlestonians in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged an unforgettable parade of 10,000 people on the slaveholders' race course. The symbolic power of the low-country planter aristocracy's horse track (where they had displayed their wealth, leisure, and influence) was not lost on the freedpeople. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing "a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before."

At 9 am on May 1, the procession stepped off led by three thousand black schoolchildren carrying arm loads of roses and singing "John Brown's Body." The children were followed by several hundred black women with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantry and other black and white citizens. As many as possible gathering in the cemetery enclosure; a childrens' choir sang "We'll Rally around the Flag," the "Star-Spangled Banner," and several spirituals before several black ministers read from scripture. No record survives of which biblical passages rung out in the warm spring air, but the spirit of Leviticus 25 was surely present at those burial rites: "for it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you… in the year of this jubilee he shall return every man unto his own possession."

Following the solemn dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: they enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches, and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantry participating was the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th U.S. Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite. The war was over, and Decoration Day had been founded by African Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been all about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders' republic, and not about state rights, defense of home, nor merely soldiers' valor and sacrifice.

According to a reminiscence written long after the fact, "several slight disturbances" occurred during the ceremonies on this first Decoration Day, as well as "much harsh talk about the event locally afterward." But a measure of how white Charlestonians suppressed from memory this founding in favor of their own creation of the practice later came fifty-one years afterward, when the president of the Ladies Memorial Association of Charleston received an inquiry about the May 1, 1865 parade. A United Daughters of the Confederacy official from New Orleans wanted to know if it was true that blacks had engaged in such a burial rite. Mrs. S. C. Beckwith responded tersely: "I regret that I was unable to gather any official information in answer to this." In the struggle over memory and meaning in any society, some stories just get lost while others attain mainstream dominance.

Officially, as a national holiday, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when General John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans organization, called on all former northern soldiers and their communities to conduct ceremonies and decorate graves of their dead comrades. On May 30, 1868, when flowers were plentiful, funereal ceremonies were attended by thousands of people in 183 cemeteries in twenty-seven states. The following year, some 336 cities and towns in thirty-one states, including the South, arranged parades and orations. The observance grew manifold with time. In the South Confederate Memorial Day took shape on three different dates: on April 26 in many deep South states, the anniversary of General Joseph Johnston's final surrender to General William T. Sherman; on May 10 in South and North Carolina, the birthday of Stonewall Jackson; and on June 3 in Virginia, the birthday of Jefferson Davis.

Over time several American towns, north and south, claimed to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. But all of them commemorate cemetery decoration events from 1866. Pride of place as the first large scale ritual of Decoration Day, therefore, goes to African Americans in Charleston. By their labor, their words, their songs, and their solemn parade of flowers and marching feet on their former owners' race course, they created for themselves, and for us, the Independence Day of the Second American Revolution.

The old race track is still there — an oval roadway in Hampton Park in Charleston, named for Wade Hampton, former Confederate general and the white supremacist Redeemer governor of South Carolina after the end of Reconstruction. The lovely park sits adjacent to the Citadel, the military academy of South Carolina, and cadets can be seen jogging on the old track any day of the week. The old gravesite dedicated to the "Martyrs of the Race Course" is gone; those Union dead were reinterred in the 1880s to a national cemetery in Beaufort, South Carolina. Some stories endure, some disappear, some are rediscovered in dusty archives, the pages of old newspapers, and in oral history. All such stories as the First Decoration Day are but prelude to future reckonings. All memory is prelude.

David W. Blight teaches American History at Yale University where he is the director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, the author of the Bancroft prize-winning Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, and the forthcoming A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Narratives of Emancipation.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Snarky Thoughts

Beyoncé and Jay-Z are reportedly the new owners of the most expensive house in California after they plunked down $200 million in cash for this, um, er, prison house … in Malibu. There are some 40,000 square feet in the house and it sits on 8 coastal acres.

My Thought: It would have been, I’m guessing, cheaper to buy San Quentin and turn it into a huge-ass house and you’d have City and Bay Views.


I love Rita Moreno but the 91-year-old star and I will come to blows if she keeps this shiz up. Rita attended a performance of the new Broadway show “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window”—she played the female lead in its 1964 original run—and after the show she got a little flirty with the show’s star, one Oscar Isaac, telling him:

“I have a thing for brooding actors. I dated Marlon Brando, you know.”

Isaac, who’s married with two children, said Brando was a tough act to follow.

My Thought: I saw him first Rita and if anyone gets him, it will be me. Ninety-one or not, I will take you down.

photo 1  photo 2

Now that Alec Baldwin is finally free from the manslaughter charges he’s gone back to being his impish lovable self … and by that I mean he’s once more acting like a self-entitled prick. Recently Alec and his wife, non-Latina Hilaria attended the 2023 PEN American Spring Literary Gala in New York and spies claim that the drama started when Baldwin stood up to chat with someone as “the line of servers come all at once to deliver the meals.” One female server got stuck behind Baldwin’s ample ass ego and when she passed and began setting dinners down he was not happy; the woman—who does not wish to be named—explains:

“I was going to feed the head of the table but that’s who he was talking to, so I go up to him and I say, ‘I’m sorry sir, but we’re going to have servers walking through the tables here in a minute.'”

And that’s when gracious star boorish pig Baldwin snapped:

“So when is it a good time to talk to my friends? Do I have to explain it to you?”

Not wanting to exacerbate the situation, she said she needed no explanation and he replied:

“Well then step aside.”

As she walked away he called her a peasant.

My Thought: If you can’t get him on manslaughter charges maybe you can charge him with being an overrated untalented dick.


Oh this is rich, trying to act like an everywoman. It seems the internets are going nuts because Kim Kardashian is acting “like she’s middle class” and “complaining” about her struggles as a single mom. The woman—who shares North, Saint, Chicago, and Psalm with ex-husband Kanye West—said on Jay Shetty’s “On Purpose” podcast that parenting is “really f—king hard.”

But some listeners weren’t having a billionaire with a full staff and a ninny for each of her children complain about being a single mom.

My Thought: If The Kardastrophe’s stays on Hulu for another year, send Kim to a two-bedroom bungalow in South Central and get her a job at the neighborhood bodega to show her what real single parenthood is like.


Julia Fox, another Kanye West cast-off, is also very Kardastrophe-like, in trying to get attention for just showing up at an event.

At the Art of Elysium 25th anniversary party in Cannes last week Fox showed up in a clear glass bra top and Klan Skirt. The structural corset top looked like it was made from a piece of glass in the form of a disfigured elephant dick held up by a clear piece of string and freeing her nipples.

For more casual wear Fox did some early morning LA shopping in slippers, a t-shirt and blazer, and a pair of men’s underwear.

My Thought: I have none. I don’t know who she is, and don’t know why people are running around photographing her at events to which she should not be invited. I guess schtupping Kanye gets you a pass?